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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Afghanistan Taliban Highlights: Ex-president Hamid Karzai urges Taliban and Panjshir fighters to resolve issues through talks

Afghanistan Live updates, Kabul Live News: Meanwhile, the Taliban are likely to announce the formation of a new government in Afghanistan by today.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: September 4, 2021 10:06:02 am
A member of the Taliban force stands guard at a checkpoint in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 2, 2021. (Reuters)

Afghanistan Highlights:  Former president Hamid Karzai in a statement has asked the Taliban and the “resistance front” in Panjshir to stop the fighting and resolve their issues through talks, TOLO news reported.

Meanwhile, the Taliban are likely to announce the formation of a new government in Afghanistan by today. The announcement of a new administration could be made after Friday afternoon prayers, two Taliban sources told the AFP news agency.

Taliban co-founder Mullah Baradar will lead a new Afghan government, sources in the Islamist group told Reuters on Friday, as its fighters battled forces loyal to the vanquished republic in the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul. Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, the son of late Taliban founder Mullah Omar, and Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai will take senior positions in the government, the sources said.

Haibatullah Akhunzada, the Taliban’s supreme religious leader, will focus on religious matters and governance within the framework of Islam, another Taliban source said.

The announcement comes as Afghanistan’s economy is battling the ramifications of an ongoing drought and the conflict that has killed an estimated 240,000 Afghans. After ruling the country from 1996 to 2001, by forcing the radical implementation of the Sharia Law, the militant group has promised a relatively flexible way of rule this time.

Live Blog

Afghanistan Live Updates: Mullah Baradar to head Taliban government; Fighting in Panjshir continues; Afghans face hunger crisis, warns UN. Follow the latest news and live updates here.

22:58 (IST)03 Sep 2021
The day the music died: Afghanistan’s all-female orchestra falls silent

Negin Khpalwak was sitting at her home in Kabul when she got word that the Taliban had reached the outskirts of the capital. The 24-year old conductor, once the face of Afghanistan’s renowned all-female orchestra, immediately began to panic. The last time the Islamist militants were in power, they banned music and women were not allowed to work. Read the full report here.

19:12 (IST)03 Sep 2021
Taliban has blocked humanitarian access to Panjshir: Amrullah Saleh

Amrullah Saleh, who was vice-president in the Ashraf Ghani government, has said that the Taliban have blocked access to aid in Panjshir.

"Talibs have blocked humanitarian access to Panjshir, do racial profile of travellers, use military-age men of Panjhsir as mine clearance tools walking them on minefields, have shut phone, electricity & not allow medicine either. People can only carry small amount of cash," he said in a tweet.

17:31 (IST)03 Sep 2021
Hamid Karzai urges Taliban and Panjshir fighters to resolve issues through talks

Former president Hamid Karzai in a statement has asked the Taliban and the “resistance front” in Panjshir to stop the fighting and resolve their issues through talks, TOLO news reported.

16:22 (IST)03 Sep 2021
Dozens march for women's rights at Kabul palace

A few dozen protesters have gathered outside the presidential palace in Kabul, urging the country's new Taliban leadership to uphold women's rights achieved under Western patronage and include women in the upcoming government.

At one gate on Friday, around a dozen women held up small printed pages urging for “A heroic Cabinet with the presence of women.” The protestors chanted slogans asserting human rights and saying they did not want to return to the past.

A document circulated by protesters demanded that Afghan women are granted full rights to education, social and political contributions in the country's future, and general freedoms including that of free speech. (AP)

Women gather to demand their rights under the Taliban rule during a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, September 3, 2021. (AP)
15:53 (IST)03 Sep 2021
Afghan media brace for what’s next under Taliban rule

Afghanistan’s most popular private television network has voluntarily replaced its risque Turkish soap operas and music shows with tamer programs tailored to the country’s new Taliban rulers, who have issued vague directives that media must not contradict Islamic laws or harm the national interest.

Still, independent Afghan news stations are keeping female presenters on the air and testing the limits of media freedom under the group, whose militants have killed journalists in the past but have promised an open, inclusive system since coming to power in August. Click here to read the full report.

An Afghan man rides on his bicycle as he holds the Taliban flag in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 2, 2021. (Reuters)
14:35 (IST)03 Sep 2021
Afghan women stage rights protest in Herat

Dozens of women gathered on the streets of Herat, a city in western Afghanistan, on Thursday, protesting against the Taliban and demanding more rights and inclusion in a new future government that may be announced as soon as Friday.“Don’t be afraid,” the women chanted as they marched toward the governor’s office, holding signs. “We are all together.”

The city of Herat is one of the country’s most liberal, and thousands of young women there attended universities and worked outside their homes before the insurgents’ victory two weeks ago. While the Taliban have maintained that they support women’s rights, many remain skeptical. The last time the group ran the country, women were banned from education, most work and nearly all aspects of public life.

14:22 (IST)03 Sep 2021
Watch| Taliban takeover amid economic, humanitarian turmoil in Afghanistan

14:19 (IST)03 Sep 2021
Taliban say Western Union to resume operations

The Taliban say Western Union will resume its operations in Afghanistan, opening a rare conduit for foreign funds to flow into the cash-strapped country. The group's 's cultural commission spokesman, Ahmadullah Muttaqi, announced the move Friday. The American financial services giant had halted operations in Afghanistan when the Taliban took power in the capital on Aug 15. The opening will be especially welcomed by Afghans with foreign relatives abroad. Hundreds of people have been lining up daily outside Afghan banks to withdraw cash. 

12:46 (IST)03 Sep 2021
Top Taliban leaders arrive in Kabul to announce new government: sources

The Taliban is expected to announce its new government after morning prayers on Friday. "All the top leaders have arrived in Kabul, where preparations are in final stages to announce the new government," one Taliban official told Reuters, on condition of anonymity.

12:30 (IST)03 Sep 2021
🚨 Mullah Baradar, head of Taliban’s political office to lead new Afghanistan government

Mullah Baradar, the head of the Taliban’s political office, will lead the new government in Afghanistan, at least three sources in the Islamist group said on Friday according to Reuters. Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, the son of late Taliban founder Mullah Omar, and Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai will take senior positions in the government, the sources said.

11:26 (IST)03 Sep 2021
Profile| Who is Sheikh Haibatullah Akhundzada, likely to be the supreme leader of Afghanistan?

Weeks after swiftly seizing control of Afghanistan, the Taliban is soon set to unveil its newly-formed government, which is likely to be helmed by the militant group’s top spiritual leader, Sheikh Haibatullah Akhundzada.

There is no clear indication of when the new government will be announced, but one thing is for certain — the country’s new leaders have their work cut out for them. Apart from the human rights crisis they have on their hands, with thousands of Afghans fleeing from the Taliban’s reign, the new government will also be severely strapped for cash as funds have been cut off by nearly all of the country’s major lenders, including the United States.

Sheikh Haibatullah took over as the Supreme leader of the Taliban after his predecessor, Akhtar Mansour, was killed in a US drone strike right by the Afghan-Pakistan border in 2016. Born and raised in the Panjwayi district just outside Kandahar, he grew up studying in madrassas or religious schools. His family later moved to the Balochistan province of Pakistan after the Soviet invasion.

11:10 (IST)03 Sep 2021
Watch| How life changed after Taliban takeover in Afghanistan's Jalalabad

10:55 (IST)03 Sep 2021
Rebels hold out in Afghan valley as Taliban set up government in Kabul

Taliban forces and fighters loyal to local leader Ahmad Massoud battled in Afghanistan's Panjshir Valley on Thursday, more than two weeks after the Islamist militia seized power, as Taliban leaders in the capital, Kabul, worked to form a government. Panjshir is the last province resisting rule by the Taliban, who retook control of the country as U.S. and foreign troops withdrew after 20 years of conflict following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Each side said it had inflicted heavy casualties."We started operations after negotiation with the local armed group failed," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.Taliban fighters had entered Panjshir and taken control of some territory, he said. 

10:47 (IST)03 Sep 2021
US has no plans to release billions in Afghan assets, Treasury says

The Biden administration has no plans to release billions in Afghan gold, investments and foreign currency reserves parked in the United States that it froze after the Taliban's takeover, despite pressure from humanitarian groups and others who say the cost may be the collapse of Afghanistan's economy.

09:52 (IST)03 Sep 2021
Pakistan urges international effort to help Afghanistan

Pakistan is urging the international community to adopt a three-pronged approach to Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover: quickly deliver aid to 14 million people facing a hunger crisis, promote an inclusive government, and work with the Taliban to attack all terrorist groups in the country.

Pakistan's ambassador to the United Nations, Munir Akram, laid out his government's vision for a future international role in Afghanistan in an Associated Press interview on Thursday, saying Pakistan has been in contact with regional countries and the broader global community on working together on the three priorities. (With PTI)

09:41 (IST)03 Sep 2021
MEA: Taliban meet focused on ensuring no anti-India terror

Two days after India’s envoy to Qatar held talks with a top Taliban leader in Doha, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that New Delhi’s immediate focus is to ensure that Afghan soil is not used for terrorist activities directed against the country.

India had used the meeting in Doha to convey this concern, and to discuss the return of the Indians who still remain in Afghanistan, MEA official spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Thursday.

“We received a positive response,” Bagchi said, referring to the meeting between India’s Ambassador to Qatar Deepak Mittal and the head of the Taliban’s political office in Doha, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai.

09:40 (IST)03 Sep 2021
Taliban expected to formally announce new government

More than two weeks after the Taliban took control of the country, the group is finally expected to present its Cabinet after morning prayers on Friday, sources told news agency AFP. The private broadcaster Tolo, too, said an announcement was imminent. The movement’s supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, is expected to have ultimate power over a new governing council, with a president below him, Taliban officials have said.

20:15 (IST)02 Sep 2021
Resistance forces fight Taliban in Panjshir, both sides claim 'heavy casualties'

Taliban forces and fighters loyal to local leader Ahmad Massoud fought in Afghanistan's Panjshir Valley on Thursday, more than two weeks after the Islamist militia seized power, as Taliban leaders in the capital Kabul worked on forming a government. According to Reuters, each side said it had inflicted heavy casualties.

Panjshir is the last Afghan province resisting rule by the Taliban, whose overthrow of the Western-backed government as US and other foreign troops withdrew after 20 years has left the country in chaos.

Militiamen loyal to Ahmad Massoud, son of the late Ahmad Shah Massoud, take part in a training exercise, in Panjshir province, northeastern Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. (AP)
19:53 (IST)02 Sep 2021
Who is Sheikh Haibatullah Akhundzada

Weeks after swiftly seizing control of Afghanistan, the Taliban is soon set to unveil its newly-formed government, which is likely to be helmed by the militant group’s top spiritual leader, Sheikh Haibatullah Akhundzada.

Sheikh Haibatullah took over as the Supreme leader of the Taliban after his predecessor, Akhtar Mansour, was killed in a US drone strike right by the Afghan-Pakistan border in 2016. Born and raised in the Panjwayi district just outside Kandahar, he grew up studying in madrassas or religious schools. His family later moved to the Balochistan province of Pakistan after the Soviet invasion. Read our explainer to know more about him.

16:39 (IST)02 Sep 2021
Britain cites need to engage with Taliban

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab today said there is a need to engage with the Taliban in Afghanistan, but Britain has no immediate plans to recognise their government. 

According to Reuters, Raab was speaking during a joint press conference with Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in Doha, where he visited housing for refugees evacuated from Afghanistan after the Taliban swept to power last month. 

Can Afghanistan’s leading broadcaster survive the Taliban?Waiters and customers watch a news broadcast on the Tolo network at a shawarma restaurant in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 29, 2020. (Kiana Hayeri/The New York Times)

Can Afghanistan’s leading broadcaster survive the Taliban?

Over the past two decades, the Afghan broadcaster Tolo has been known for provocative programs such as “Burka Avenger,” in which an animated superheroine uses martial arts to vanquish villains trying to shut down a girls school.

Millions of Afghans have also tuned in to its racy Turkish soap operas, its popular “6 P.M. News” and the reality show “Afghan Star,” featuring female singers dancing energetically on Afghanistan’s version of “American Idol.”

Since the Taliban captured Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, on Aug. 15, however, Tolo’s usual lineup is being supplemented by something else: educational programming about Islamic morality. Whether its menu of pop music and female television hosts will survive in the Taliban’s new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will be a barometer of the insurgents’ tolerance for dissenting views and values.

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