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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Afghanistan Highlights: US halts all evacuation flights from Afghanistan after limited measles outbreak

Afghanistan-Taliban Highlights: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said all countries should engage with the Taliban to deliver the message that the Afghan people should live in peace under an inclusive government that respects basic human rights.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: September 12, 2021 9:38:58 am
Taliban soldiers stand in front of protesters during the anti-Pakistan protest in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 7, 2021. (Reuters)

Afghanistan crisis Highlights: The United States has halted all evacuation flights from Afghanistan after discovering a limited measles outbreak among refugees arriving in the country. The decision was made on the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which cited “health safety concerns”. 

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that all countries should engage with the Taliban to deliver the message that the Afghan people should live in peace under an inclusive government that respects basic human rights. Guterres highlighted that the country should not become a sanctuary for terrorism anymore. The UN rights office on Friday had said that the Taliban response to peaceful marches in Afghanistan has been increasingly violent, with authorities using live ammunition, batons and whips and causing the deaths of at least four protesters.

On the other hand, India on Friday called for an “inclusive dispensation” in Afghanistan, representing all sections of society. Underlining that it was its “immediate neighbour and a friend to its people”, New Delhi said “the current situation is of direct concern to us”. This was India’s first response to the announcement of the Taliban government, days after the Pakistan ISI chief reached Kabul and handpicked the appointments.

Meanwhile, Pakistan on Friday said that they hope the new interim Taliban government will bring “peace, security and stability” to the war-torn country and work towards taking care of humanitarian and development needs of the Afghan people.

Live Blog

Afghanistan Live News Updates: India calls for inclusive dispensation in Afghanistan govt; UN accuses Taliban of harassment; Commercial flights from Kabul resume; Follow this space for the latest updates on Afghanistan:

22:08 (IST)11 Sep 2021
Taliban flag flies at Afghan presidential palace

The Taliban flag waved over the Afghan presidential palace the same day the U.S. and the world marked the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. The milestone anniversary Saturday takes place just weeks after the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the return to power of the Taliban, the faction that sheltered the Muslim militant group founded by Osama bin Laden that carried out the attacks. The Taliban flag was raised Friday and could be seen waving over the presidential palace in Kabul on Saturday. The militant group also painted their white backdrop flag on the wall of the U.S. Embassy building. --AP

17:37 (IST)11 Sep 2021
India's role as regional ally can have positive impact in Afghanistan: US official

India as a key regional player and ally of the US and its history of investments in Afghanistan could have a positive impact on the future of the country now under Taliban control, a US State Department spokesperson has said here. In an interview with PTI ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks this week, Zed Tarar reiterated US President Joe Biden's message that the war in Afghanistan had achieved its central mission to eliminate the Al Qaeda terror network behind the attacks on September 11, 2001. Now, the focus is on working with "like-minded partners and democracies", such as India, to look towards the next chapter of supporting the people of Afghanistan. --PTI

15:42 (IST)11 Sep 2021
US gives first public look inside base housing Afghans

The US administration Friday provided the first public look inside a US military base where Afghans airlifted from a Taliban-occupied Afghanistan are being screened, news agency AP reported. "Every Afghan who is here with us has endured a harrowing journey and they are now faced with the very real challenges of acclimating with life in the United States," Liz Gracon, a senior State Department official, was quoted by AP as saying.

14:12 (IST)11 Sep 2021
UN refugee chief says agency will engage Taliban

The UN refugee agency chief said Friday the UNHCR will engage with the Taliban in order provide assistance to millions of displaced Afghans. Filippo Grandi, the United Nations' high commissioner for refugees, also said his agency has so far not observed large numbers of Afghans trying to cross into other countries but warned that the situation could change if conditions in the country deteriorate.

"The priority number one for my organization is to step up, scale up our humanitarian work to help those displaced... Winter is coming. It is very cold in Afghanistan during winter," Grandi said.

14:11 (IST)11 Sep 2021
US envoy praises Qatar for Afghanistan flights

More than 250 foreign nationals have left Afghanistan in the past three days, says Zalmay Khalilzad, Washington's special envoy and the architect of an often criticised deal with the Taliban. The deal signed last year provided for the safe withdrawal of U.S and NATO troops but say his critics was heavily weighted in favor of the hardline-Islamic movement.

10:41 (IST)11 Sep 2021
Taliban's victory in Afghanistan might embolden other groups in different parts of world: UN chief

The Taliban's victory in Afghanistan might embolden other groups in different parts of the world, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned, expressing his worry over global terrorism while asserting that dialogue with the militant group is "absolutely essential" as the UN wants the country to play a "constructive role" in international relations. The Taliban insurgents seized control of Afghanistan in mid-August, ousting the previous elected leadership which was backed by the West.

"I must tell you, I am very worried with what we are witnessing in different parts of the world. And the fact that in Afghanistan, the Taliban were able to win might embolden other groups in different parts of the world independently of the fact that they are different from the Taliban and I am not seeing there is a similarity among them," Guterres said during a press conference on Friday at the UN Headquarters.

10:20 (IST)11 Sep 2021
Another Qatar Airways charter flight departs Kabul with 19 US citizens

The United States on Friday facilitated the departure of 21 American nationals and 11 Green Card holders, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

"As part of our ongoing commitment, today we facilitated the departure from Afghanistan of 21 US citizens and 11 Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs),  Blinken said in a statement.
     

Specifically, the department assisted two US citizens and 11 LPRs depart Afghanistan via an overland route, he said, adding that the department provided guidance to them, worked to facilitate their safe passage, and embassy officials greeted them once they had crossed the border.

09:37 (IST)11 Sep 2021
US gives 1st public look inside base housing Afghans

The Biden administration on Friday provided the first public look inside a U.S. military base where Afghans airlifted out of Afghanistan are being screened, amid questions about how the government is caring for the refugees and vetting them. The three-hour tour at Fort Bliss Army base in El Paso, Texas, was the first time the media has been granted broad access to one of the eight U.S. military installations housing Afghans.

Nearly 10,000 Afghan evacuees are staying at the base while they undergo medical and security checks before being resettled in the United States. On Friday, Afghan children with soccer balls and basketballs played outside large white tents. One young girl was still wearing dirty clothing.

21:49 (IST)10 Sep 2021
Amrullah Saleh's brother executed by Taliban, says family

The Taliban have executed the brother of Amrullah Saleh, the former Afghan vice president who became one of the leaders of anti-Taliban opposition forces in the Panjshir valley, his nephew said on Friday.

The news that Saleh’s brother Rohullah Azizi was killed came days after Taliban forces took control of the provincial centre of Panjshir, the last province holding out against them. 

“They executed my uncle,” Ebadullah Saleh told Reuters in a text message. “They killed him yesterday and would not let us bury him. They kept saying his body should rot.” Read the full report here.

20:40 (IST)10 Sep 2021
DW correspondents able to leave Afghanistan

Just over a week after international coalition forces pulled out of Afghanistan, DW’s correspondents and their families have managed to leave the country via Pakistan. DW had asked all employees in Afghanistan to go to Kabul as soon as possible when it became clear that the Taliban would take control over the country. The situation for journalists in Afghanistan had become increasingly dangerous, with reports of intimidation and violence at the hands of the Taliban. For this reason, DW decided to evacuate the correspondents centrally from Kabul’s airport. At the time, it seemed the best option. Read the full report here

DW's correspondents crossed into Pakistan via the Torkham border crossing
18:43 (IST)10 Sep 2021
Taliban takeover of Afghanistan a ‘boost’ to extremists elsewhere: UK spy chief

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan will provide a “morale boost” to extremists plotting attacks elsewhere, and could again give them a base to operate as they did in the run-up to 9/11, the head of Britain’s MI5 domestic spy service said on Friday.

Ken McCallum, director general of the Security Service, best known by the initials for Military Intelligence Section 5, told the BBC the threat to Britain from terrorism was “a real and enduring thing”. 

Taliban soldiers stand in front of a sign at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 9, 2021. (Reuters)
17:44 (IST)10 Sep 2021
Isolating Afghanistan will have 'serious consequences' for region and world: Pakistan

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday urged the international community to adopt a "new positive approach" towards Afghanistan, warning that isolating the country will have "serious consequences" for the Afghan people, the region and the world at large.

According to PTI, Qureshi made the comments during a joint press conference along with Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares, who arrived in Islamabad on Friday to discuss the latest Afghan situation.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi 
16:03 (IST)10 Sep 2021
Kremlin says Russia will not take part in Afghan government inauguration

The Kremlin said on Friday Russia would not take part in any way in the Taliban government's inauguration ceremony in Afghanistan. The speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament said earlier this week that Russia would be represented at the inauguration by ambassador-level officials, the RIA news agency reported. (Reuters)

14:40 (IST)10 Sep 2021
Taliban used live ammunition against protesters, says UN official

A UN human rights official said Taliban has used live ammunition, batons and whips against protesters in Afghanistan. 

A journalist shows his injuries after being beaten by the Taliban in Kabul, Afghanistan Sept. 8, 2021 in this picture obtained from social media. (Reuters)
13:38 (IST)10 Sep 2021
Pakistan rejects reports alluding to its involvement in Panjshir Valley offensive

Pakistan has rejected reports that it was aiding the Taliban offensive in Afghanistan's Panjshir Valley, terming these as a "mischievous propaganda campaign".

Some reports quoted a CENTCOM source saying that the Pakistani military was assisting the Taliban offensive in Panjshir with 27 helicopters full of Pakistani Special Forces backed up by drone strikes. The Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar in an overnight statement "categorically rejected these allegations as part of a mischievous propaganda campaign". (PTI)

13:36 (IST)10 Sep 2021
Russia to reinforce its Tajikistan base with new tanks

ussia is to equip its military base in Tajikistan, which neighbours Afghanistan, with 30 new tanks by the end of the year, the Interfax news agency reported.

Moscow has held military exercises in Tajikistan and expanded the hardware at the base, its biggest in a foreign country, since the US withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and the Taliban's lightning takeover. Russia is worried about the potential for fallout in the wider region and the possibility of Islamist militants infiltrating Central Asia, which Moscow sees as its southern defensive buffer.

Interfax quoted Khanif Beglov, tank unit commander of Russia's Central Military District, saying 30 modern tanks would be stationed at the base by the end of the year to replace older combat vehicles. (Reuters)

11:43 (IST)10 Sep 2021
Important that Taliban adheres to commitment to not allow use of Afghan soil for terrorism, says India

Terming the situation in Afghanistan as “very fragile”, India has said it is important that the Taliban adheres to its commitment to not allow the use of the Afghan soil for terrorism, including from terror groups designated under Security Council resolution 1267 that lists Pakistan-based outfits Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador TS Tirumurti said at the UN Security Council Debate on Afghanistan Thursday that as Afghanistan’s neighbour, India was privileged to preside over the adoption of a substantial and forward-looking product of the Council during its presidency of the 15-nation UN body last month. (Read more)

10:50 (IST)10 Sep 2021
Interim Taliban govt does not reflect what international community hoped to see, says US

The interim Taliban government does not reflect what the international community and the United States hoped to see, the Biden Administration said on Thursday.

“We have spoken about our reaction to the initial caretaker government. You have heard us say that the lack of inclusivity, the track records, the backgrounds of some of the individuals involved, are a cause for concern. It certainly does not reflect what the international community and what, as a part of that, the United States hoped to see,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at his news conference. (Read more)

10:28 (IST)10 Sep 2021
In photos: Kabul-Doha flight arrives in Qatar

The first international civilian flight under Afghanistan's new Taliban interim government departed Kabul on Thursday carrying more than 100 foreigners, including some US citizens left behind after last month's chaotic Western airlift. The Kabul to Doha flight carried 113 people. (Photos via Reuters and AP)

10:19 (IST)10 Sep 2021
Taliban have been ‘businesslike & professional’ in facilitating departure of Americans: White House

The Taliban have been businesslike and professional in their facilitating the departure of American citizens and others from Afghanistan, the White House said on Thursday as a chartered Qatar Airways flight from Kabul landed in Doha.

Taliban members seen at the airport on Sept. 9 (AP)

“The Taliban have been cooperative in facilitating the departure of American citizens and lawful permanent residents on charter flights from HKIA. They have shown flexibility, and they have been businesslike and professional in our dealings with them in this effort. This is a positive first step,” Emily Horne, Spokesperson of the National Security Council, the White House said.


She said that the US government facilitated the departure of US citizens and lawful permanent residents on a chartered Qatar Airways flight from Hamid Karzai International Airport. (Read more)

How one family fled Afghanistan and was reunited in New York City

Thousands of desperate Afghans had crowded Kabul’s airport gates trying to flee the country, and for every family allowed in, countless more were left behind. Adam DeMarco, a member of Allied Airlift 21, a group of veterans working to evacuate Americans and those with family ties to Americans from Afghanistan, said of the roughly 56,000 people who had messaged his group, only about 1,000 had been helped so far.

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