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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Afghanistan-Taliban crisis Highlights: Taliban appoint senior veterans to key ministerial posts

Kabul, Afghanistan-Taliban crisis Highlights: Meanwhile, India cancelled all previously issued visas to Afghan nationals who are presently not in the country and has asked them to travel to India only on an electronic visa (e-Visa).

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 26, 2021 7:16:40 am
Taliban fighters in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP)

Afghanistan-Taliban crisis Highlights: Afghanistan’s Taliban have appointed senior veterans to the posts of finance minister and defence minister, two members of the group said, news agency Reuters reported citing local media.

The Taliban have not formally announced the appointments, which a commander said were provisional, but Afghanistan’s Pajhwok news agency said on Tuesday that Gul Agha had been named as finance minister and Sadr Ibrahim acting interior minister.

Meanwhile, China says it has established an “open and effective communication and consultation with the Afghan Taliban,” following a meeting between representatives of the group and Beijing’s ambassador to Kabul, according to the Associated Press.

Live Blog

Afghanistan-Taliban crisis Highlights: Russia holds military exercises in Tajikistan, Final batch of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus to be evacuated today, Joe Biden decides to stick with Aug 31 pullout date. Follow highlights here.

22:17 (IST)25 Aug 2021
Heartbreaking scenes from Kabul airport

A photograph shared by the US Department of Defense shows Afghan children trying on helmets while waiting to be evacuated at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.

21:31 (IST)25 Aug 2021
Taliban appoint senior veterans to key ministerial posts

Afghanistan's Taliban have appointed senior veterans to the posts of finance minister and defence minister, two members of the group said, as it switches focus from a stunning military conquest to how to run a country in crisis, news agency Reuters reported citing local media.

The Taliban have not formally announced the appointments, which a commander said were provisional, but Afghanistan's Pajhwok news agency said on Tuesday that Gul Agha had been named as finance minister and Sadr Ibrahim acting interior minister.

21:20 (IST)25 Aug 2021
Taliban asked Turkey for support to run Kabul airport: Officials

The Taliban have asked Turkey for technical help to run Kabul airport after the departure of foreign forces but insist that Ankara's military also withdraw fully by the end-August deadline, two Turkish officials told Reuters. The conditional request by the Islamist  Taliban, who swept back to power in Afghanistan 20 years after they were ousted in a US invasion, leaves Ankara with a difficult decision over whether to accept a hazardous job, one official said.

19:24 (IST)25 Aug 2021
Photos: Afghan refugees protest outside UNHCR office in New Delhi

Visuals from the protest outside the UNHCR office in New Delhi.

19:00 (IST)25 Aug 2021
Afghanistan crisis: Jaishankar speaks to UK foreign secretary

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar spoke to his British counterpart Dominic Raab on the developments in Afghanistan in the backdrop of the Taliban seizing control of the country. "Our conversation focused on developments in Afghanistan," Jaishankar said in a tweet.

18:51 (IST)25 Aug 2021
Dutch protesters burn tires near refugee housing

Protesters have burned car tires outside a military base in the central Netherlands where Afghans are being housed after being evacuated from Kabul, the Associated Press reported. A police spokeswoman said that officers did not arrest or hand on-the-spot fines to anybody at the demonstration Tuesday night.

18:16 (IST)25 Aug 2021
France to continue evacuation operation 'as long as possible'

A French government spokesperson says France will continue its evacuation operation in Kabul “as long as possible” ahead of American Aug. 31 withdrawal date.

Gabriel Attal on Wednesday did not provide a date for the end of the French operation, saying only “we will likely need to anticipate a few hours, maybe a few days ahead” of the American forces’ departure from Kabul airport. “We will continue as long as possible,” he said.

“Due to extreme tension on the ground ... and the scheduled departure of American forces, these evacuations are a true race against time.” (AP)

16:05 (IST)25 Aug 2021
Poland halts airlift evacuations from Kabul

Poland says it has halted airlift evacuations from Afghanistan as America’s Aug. 31 deadline looms.

A deputy foreign minister said Wednesday that a group taken from Kabul and now in Uzbekistan was the last evacuated by Poland. Another plane is on its way to Warsaw.

According to AP, Marcin Przydacz said the decisions was made after consultation with the US and British officials. 

15:57 (IST)25 Aug 2021
Anticipated Taliban takeover of Afghanistan but timelines surprised us: CDS Bipin Rawat

Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat on Wednesday asserted that any possible terrorist activity flowing out of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and finding its way into India will be firmly dealt with, and suggested that the Quad nations should boost cooperation in the global war on terrorism.

Gen Rawat said India was anticipating a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan but the timelines of the latest developments have surprised it, noting that the outfit has not changed over the past 20 years.

He along with Commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command Admiral John Aquilino was speaking at an interactive session organised by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF). 

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15:28 (IST)25 Aug 2021
China says it has established 'open and effective communication' with Taliban

China says it has established an “open and effective communication and consultation with the Afghan Taliban,” following a meeting between representatives of the group and Beijing’s ambassador to Kabul, according to the Associated Press. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin gave no details about the Tuesday meeting between the deputy head of the Taliban’s political office, Abdul Salam Hanafi and Ambassador Wang Yu. But he said China considered Kabul to be an “important platform and channel for both sides to discuss important matters of all kinds.”

Last month, China had hosted a delegation led by senior Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar for talks.

Taliban fighters in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP)
14:55 (IST)25 Aug 2021
Watch: Taliban's history and ideology, explained

The Taliban entered Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on August 15, following a week of rapid territorial gains from retreating government forces. Here's a look into the group's history and ideology.

14:45 (IST)25 Aug 2021
Russia holds military exercises in Tajikistan

Russia began evacuating more than 500 people from Afghanistan on Wednesday while at the same time holding military exercises for its tank forces in neighbouring Tajikistan.

The U.S. exit from Afghanistan is a security headache for Moscow, which sees Central Asia as part of its southern defensive flank and fears radical Islamism spreading into the region.

Russia is holding a month of military exercises in Tajikistan, a Moscow ally, and has reinforced its base there. Russia's Defence Ministry said it had deployed a number of T-72 tanks to Tajikistan's mountains and practiced long-range firing at moving targets, the Interfax news agency reported. (Reuters)

14:06 (IST)25 Aug 2021
First female head of Afghanistan’s poll panel rues: 20 years of progress lost

When Hawa Alam Nooristani (56) left Kabul on August 8 to attend a conference in Beirut, she had no inkling of what lay ahead.

A week later, on August 15, as Nooristani and her colleagues waited in transit at Dubai airport to board the flight back to Kabul, her family informed her of the Taliban’s rapid advance on Afghanistan’s capital. Returning home was no longer safe, she was told.

Fearing retribution for their role in conducting elections in the country, all eight Election Commissioners changed their travel plans and flew to another country instead. (Read more)

 
13:45 (IST)25 Aug 2021
UK says deadline for Afghanistan evacuation is to the last minute of Aug. 31

British foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Wednesday that the deadline for evacuating people from Afghanistan was up to the last minute of this month.

Raab was asked after a White House spokesperson said at a briefing on Tuesday they needed to check if the deadline for evacuations was up to the last minute of Aug. 30 or Aug. 31.

'We think it goes until the end of August, but the military planners will firm up the details for the precise time frame,' Raab told BBC TV. Raab said Britain hoped there would be a functioning airport in Kabul after the evacuations end. (Reuters)

13:15 (IST)25 Aug 2021
Explained: What happens after Joe Biden’s evacuation force leaves Afghanistan?

President Joe Biden on Tuesday stuck by his plan to remove the nearly 6,000 US troops from Afghanistan by the end of August, contingent on whether the Taliban cooperates to allow the evacuation of more Americans and their Afghan allies.

The Association of Wartime Allies, a refugee resettlement group, estimates 250,000 Afghans, including interpreters and drivers and other workers who helped the US effort, need to be evacuated, but only 62,000 have left since July.

The State Department says the aim is to help at-risk Afghans leave even after the troop withdrawal and that Washington will put pressure on the Taliban to ensure they are able to do so. (Read more)

12:51 (IST)25 Aug 2021
Final batch of Afghan Sikhs, Hindus to be evacuated today


The final batch of 180 Sikhs and Hindus from Afghanistan are likely to be evacuated from Kabul today, said president of World Punjabi Organisation. 

Vikram Sahney said that the flight will take them to Delhi.

12:38 (IST)25 Aug 2021
78 Afghan evacuees to undergo mandatory quarantine

As many as 78 people who arrived from Afghanistan late on Tuesday have been taken to ITBP's Chhawla Camp for 14-day mandatory quarantine, reports news agency ANI.

"A total of 78 evacuees were shifted to ITBP's Chhawla based camp till Tuesday late night. Of total evacuees, 24 are Indians & 54 Afghan nationals that include 53 males, 14 females & 11 children. All had gone through COVID-19 test at IGI Airport & are reported negative," ITBP said, according to ANI

12:27 (IST)25 Aug 2021
All Afghans must travel to India only on e-Visa, says MHA

All Afghan nationals must henceforth travel to India only on e-visa, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a press release on Wednesday. The release said that previously issued visas to all Afghan nationals, who are presently not in India, stand invalidated with immediate effect.

"Owing to the prevailing security situation in Afghanistan and streamlining of the visa process by introduction of the e-Emergency X-Misc visa, it has been decided that all Afghan nationals henceforth must travel to India only on e-Visa," said the release. 

"Keeping in view some reports that certain passports of Afghan nationals have been misplaced, previously issued visas to all Afghan nationals, who are presently not in India, stand invalidated with immediate effect.  Afghan nationals wishing to travel to India may apply for e-Visa at www.indianvisaonline.gov.in," it added. 

12:18 (IST)25 Aug 2021
Watch: It is Pakistan’s moment of triumph in Afghanistan, but India must bet on patience

As the tragic chaos at the Kabul airport continues, two interconnected political negotiations unfolding are likely to determine Afghanistan’s immediate future. Prof C. Raja Mohan explains. 

C. Raja Mohan is Director, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore, and contributing editor on foreign affairs for 'The Indian Express'. (Read more)

12:08 (IST)25 Aug 2021
Pakistan's role in the current crisis is very clear, says Afghan women's rights activist Zarifa Ghafari lands in Germany

Prominent Afghan women's rights activist Zarifa Ghafari said that Pakistan's role in the current crisis is very clear and "every child of Afghanistan knows this". In 2018, Ghafari became the mayor of the Afghan town of Maidan Shahr at the age of 26.

"The Taliban came to my house in Afghanistan, they were searching for me & they also beat my house guard. They have a list of people who took a liberal approach earlier," she told news agency ANI in an interview. Ghafari arrived in Germany together with her family members after fleeing Afghanistan to Pakistan last week.

Ghafari is a recipient of the the U.S. State Department's 2020 International Women of Courage award. According to the State Department, she has survived at least six assassination attempts. 

Eager to shift narrative, Biden team puts Afghanistan airlift in historical context

A plane lands at Tempelhof Airport during the airlift of supplies to West Berlin, 1948. (Henry Ries/The New York Times)

When US President Joe Biden briefly referred to the Berlin airlift — the operation 73 years ago to feed a city whose access had been choked off by the Soviet Union — in describing the United States’ evacuation efforts in Afghanistan, he was revealing the inspiration for a broader plan to redeem his messy exit.

After 10 days of missed signals, desperate crowds and violence around Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Biden and his team are eager to shift the narrative about the chaotic end of America’s longest war.

How opium resurrected the Taliban in Afghanistan

Occupying the presidential palace in Kabul, the triumphant Taliban leaders with bazookas in their hands proclaimed that “War has ended in Afghanistan”. Yet, from all around Afghanistan, we see images of anxiety, desperation, chaos, and fear. Winter has finally arrived in Afghanistan.

The situation demands grappling with some serious questions: How has the Taliban regained territorial control over Afghanistan? How has the Taliban managed to be so strong, notwithstanding efforts by America to bring it down? What has made this possible? Among many causal explanations, the geopolitical economy of opium can be traced as a plausible factor that led to the Taliban’s victory.

It is Pakistan’s moment of triumph in Afghanistan, but India must bet on patience

As the tragic chaos at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul continues, two interconnected political negotiations unfolding are likely to determine Afghanistan’s immediate future. One is focussed on building a new political order within Afghanistan and the other is about gaining international recognition for the incipient Taliban-led government.

Notwithstanding the current triumphalism in Pakistan at “overthrowing” the US-backed order in Kabul and “pushing” India out of Afghanistan, Delhi can afford to step back and signal that it can wait. For one, Rawalpindi is some distance away from establishing a new political order dominated by the Taliban. Then there is the challenge of securing the international legitimacy of a Pakistan-backed order in Afghanistan and sustaining its future.

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