Flights resume as Kabul airport opens for evacuation amid reports Taliban holding talks on forming government

Senior Taliban official has said militant group will ‘grant an amnesty’ across Afghanistan and urged women to join the government

Shweta Sharma
Tuesday 17 August 2021 11:22
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Flight operations at Kabul airport to evacuate diplomats and civilians have resumed on Tuesday after being halted on Monday, as a top Taliban leader reportedly held talks with Afghan’s political leadership to build a new government.

The crowd had thinned down at the airport amid reports the situation had reportedly “stabilized,” a day after chaotic scenes unfolded at Hamid Karzai International Airport leaving several people dead.

Thousands of people arrived at the Kabul airport on Monday in a desperate attempt to escape as the Taliban took over the country after president Ashraf Ghani fled with his aides on Sunday. Crowds chased departing US evacuation aircraft and some were seen in the videos clinging on to planes in haunting scenes.

It prompted US authorities, who control the airport, to halt the evacuation flights, cutting off one of the last avenues in the country for people to escape the Taliban rule.

A western security official told Reuters on Tuesday that most of the people who thronged at the airport on Monday had returned and the tarmac is now clear of crowds.

In the presidential palace, talks are reportedly ongoing between the Taliban and several Afghan government officials including former Afghan president Hamid Karzai and former chief peace negotiator, Abdullah Abdullah on the formation of a government. Senior Taliban leader, Amir Khan Muttaqi flew from Qatar to Kabul to attend the talks, an official familiar with the talks told AP.

Afghans familiar with the talks said some rounds were held late into the night and have been underway since the sudden departure of President Ghani to an unknown location.

Meanwhile, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission has said the militant group will grant an “amnesty” across Afghanistan and have urged women to join the government. Enamullah Samangani made the comments on Afghan state television, which the militants now control.

“The Islamic Emirate don’t want women to be victims,” he said, using the militants’ term for Afghanistan.

He added: “The structure of government is not fully clear, but based on experience, there should be a fully Islamic leadership and all sides should join.”

On Monday, a joint statement by the international community, including dozens of countries such as the UK, New Zealand and Germany, demanded that those Afghan civilians who wished to leave the country should be allowed.

“Given the deteriorating security situation, we support, are working to secure, and call on all parties to respect and facilitate, the safe and orderly departure of foreign nationals and Afghans who wish to leave the country,” it said.

“Those in positions of power and authority across Afghanistan bear responsibility - and accountability - for the protection of human life and property, and for the immediate restoration of security and civil order,” it added without naming the Taliban leadership.

British foreign secretary Dominic Raab said the UK “will hold them [Taliban] to account for their commitment, and never to allow Afghanistan to be used as a base for terror.”

He said the situation is stabilizing at the Kabul airport. "The position at the airport is stabilising," Mr Raab told Sky News. "The stability at the airport is absolutely key," he added.

According to media reports, at least seven people have died in airport chaos in one day with five dead in one incident.

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