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Afghanistan Taliban highlights today: Panjshir now resembles a ghost town, says report

Today Afghanistan Taliban Kabul News Highlights: Kabul government is working on resolving a series of problems that have held up salaries for public sector workers, the finance ministry said.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: September 17, 2021 11:08:20 pm
A view of a gate of the provincial governor's office in Panjshir, in this picture uploaded to social media on September 6, 2021. (Reuters)

Afghanistan Taliban Crisis LIVE Updates: Weeks after Taliban claimed victory in Panjshir, the valley lies empty as families left one by one, says an AFP report. The province was one of the last to fall into the hands of Taliban after a spirited fight with resistance forces.

Also read | One month since Taliban takeover: Here’s everything that has happened in Afghanistan

Several world leaders have announced they would see whether the Taliban fulfils its promises to the international community on issues like an inclusive Afghan government and human rights before giving their regime diplomatic recognition. Afghanistan was already facing chronic poverty and drought but the situation has deteriorated since the Taliban seized power last month with the disruption of aid, the departure of tens of thousands of people including government and aid workers, and the collapse of much economic activity.

Here are some of the key stories to follow:

UN Security Council extends mandate of United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan for 6 months

The UN Security Council extended for six months the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), unanimously voting on a resolution that emphasises the importance of the establishment of an inclusive and representative government.

The 15-nation Council voted on the draft resolution that extended the mandate of UNAMA until March 17, 2022.

The resolution, stressing the important role that the United Nations will continue to play in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan, recognises the need for strengthened efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and the important coordination role of the United Nations, and reaffirming that the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance requires all parties to allow full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access, for United Nations humanitarian agencies and other humanitarian actors.

Taliban say Afghan boys’ schools to reopen, no mention of girls

Afghan schools will open for boys from Saturday, the new Taliban ministry of education said in a statement that gave no indication of when girls might be able to go back to their classes.

More than a month after the movement seized the capital Kabul, most educational institutions have remained closed as the Taliban have struggled to reopen the economy and restore normal life in the cities.

At some of the schools that have managed to operate, girls up to the sixth grade have attended, and women students have gone to university classes. But high schools for girls have been closed.

Taliban officials have said they will not replicate the fundamentalist policies of the previous Taliban government, which banned girls’ education, and they have promised that girls will be able to study so long as they do so in segregated classrooms, according to a Reuters report.

Xi Jinping says SCO states should help drive smooth Afghan transition

China’s President Xi Jinping said on Friday that member nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) should help drive a smooth transition in Afghanistan, according to Chinese state media.

SCO member states should guide Afghanistan to develop an inclusive political structure and follow moderate internal and external policies, Xi said.

The SCO comprises eight members: China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.Afghanistan is an observer state in the group.

Germany awards its leader of Afghanistan airlift

Germany’s president has bestowed one of the country’s highest awards to the commander who led the evacuation of Germans and some Afghans from Kabul, The Associated Press reported.

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier praised Brig. Gen. Jens Arlt’s leadership of an operation that he said was “unprecedented” in Germany’s post-World War II history.

The German military evacuated more than 5,300 citizens of 45 countries from the Afghan capital, part of a wider international effort to airlift 120,000 people after the Taliban takeover last month.

Steinmeier noted that Arlt had managed to bring home all of his 500 troops unharmed, despite the risks they faced on the ground. He added that “we bear some of the responsibility for human tragedy” in Afghanistan.

Panjshir now resembles a ghost town, says report

Weeks after Taliban claimed victory in Panjshir, the valley lies empty as families left one by one. Old men, livestock and Taliban fighters are all that remains now.

“Before, almost 100 families lived here,” said a resident of Khenj district, according to AFP. “There are only three left now. Everyone has left.” Villages across the province tell the same story, says the report, adding that the AFP team visited three of the hardest-hit of the province’s seven districts.

The Taliban and fighters of resistance front were engaged in a fierce battle in the Panjshir province, which was one of the last provinces to fall into Taliban hands.

Afghanistan G20 meeting to be held after UN assembly, Italian foreign minister tells paper

An ad hoc summit of the Group of 20 major economies to discuss Afghanistan will be held after the United Nations Assembly which ends on Sept. 30, Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said in an interview published on Friday.

Taliban fighters patrol a market in Kabul’s Old City, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. (AP Photo)

“Yes, the G20 will be held after the Assembly General of the United Nations in New York, where I will be next week. On the margin of the UN Assembly there will be a meeting of the G20 Foreign ministers to prepare the extraordinary summit,” Di Maio told daily la Repubblica. Di Maio said that Italy, which holds the rotating G20 presidency this year, has asked for agencies of the United Nations and non-profit organisations active in Afghanistan to be involved in the meeting.

IMF suspends its engagement with Afghanistan

The International Monetary Fund has said its engagement with Afghanistan will remain suspended until there is clarity within the international community on the recognition of the government led by the Taliban.

The IMF said it was deeply concerned with economic conditions in Afghanistan, urging the international community to take urgent steps to stall a “looming humanitarian crisis” in the country.

Republican senators seek to designate Taliban as terrorist organisation

Top Republican lawmakers have demanded that the Taliban be designated as a terrorist organisation, arguing that the government led by the hardline group in Afghanistan has several cabinet members who are UN designated terrorists. The lawmakers have also sought sanctions against the countries that recognise the government led by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Afghan finance ministry working on getting public sector salaries paid

Afghanistan’s government is working on resolving a series of problems that have held up salaries for public sector workers, the finance ministry said on Thursday, as the new Taliban administration struggles to restart the stalled economy.

Even before the movement seized Kabul last month, many public sector workers said they had not been paid for weeks and with banks imposing strict limits on cash withdrawals while prices for basic necessities rise, many face serious hardship. The ministry said “technical problems” had led to a delay in paying salaries but special teams were working on resolving payroll issues as quickly as possible.

Dutch foreign minister quits over Afghanistan evacuations

The Dutch foreign minister, Sigrid Kaag, resigned Thursday after the lower house of parliament passed a motion of censure against the government over its handling of evacuations from Afghanistan amid the Taliban takeover.

In a parliamentary debate Wednesday night, Kaag acknowledged that the government’s slow or muddled response to warnings about the situation in Afghanistan meant some local staff and people who had worked as translators for Dutch troops in the country had not been evacuated.

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