Sunday Aug 15 2021
Web Desk

Kabul in Taliban chokehold; negotiations on for transfer of power

Web Desk

Former Afghan ambassador to Germany, Ali Ahmad Jalali, has been appointed as the head of the new interim government in Afghanistan, reported Afghan media Sunday. 

Taliban fighters arrived at Kabul's surrounding areas but have not yet entered the city.

The Taliban, however, announced that they did not intend to take the city by force.

Reports from the Afghanistan media state that negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government are taking place inside the ARG Presidential Palace in Kabul, as Taliban fighters wait at Kabul's gates for further instructions.

Abdullah Abdullah, the head of Afghanistan's High Council for National Reconciliation, is acting as the arbitrator in the negotiations.

Abdul Ghani Baradar arrives in Kabul

Meanwhile, Afghanistan interior ministry reports state that Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar has reached Afghanistan from Doha. 

Baradar was leading negotiations of a Taliban delegation with envoys of various governments in Doha. 

Taliban announce safe passage for anyone wishing to leave the city

A Taliban leader announced that the Kabul airport is being allowed to function as usual, adding that Afghanistan armed forces personnal have been allowed to go home if they so wished. 

The Taliban leader said that foreigners can leave Kabul own their own accord, adding that those who wished to stay, will have to register themselves. 

Taliban fighters have been ordered not to celebrate their victory by aerial firing, he said.

Kabul won't be attacked, says Afghan interior minister

Afghan journalist Bilal Sarwary tweeted a video clip of Afghanistan's Interior Minister General Abdul Sattar Mirzakwal, who said that agreements for a "transitional government" have been reached. 

"Afghan forces including police and special forces instructed to keep law and order in Kabul," he tweeted.

Taliban free prisoners from Afghanistan's largest prison

Shortly after arriving in Kabul, the Taliban freed hundreds of prisoners from Afghanistan's largest prison, the Pul-e-Charkhi in Kabul. 

Tajuden Soroush, a correspondent of Iran International, tweeted a video clip in which hundreds of prisoners can be seen walking away from the prison. 

Russia says no plans to vacate Kabul embassy

Russia does not plan to evacuate its embassy in Kabul as Taliban fighters reached the outskirts of the Afghan capital in their blistering military takeover of the country, foreign ministry official Zamir Kabulov told the Interfax news agency.

Kabulov said he is "in direct contact" with Moscow´s ambassador in Kabul and that Russian embassy employees continue to work "calmly" and "no evacuation is planned".

Taliban tells fighters to stand at Kabul's gates

"Negotiations are underway to ensure that the transition process is completed safely and securely, without compromising the lives, property and honour of anyone, and without compromising the lives of Kabulis,” it said.

“The Islamic Emirate instructs all its forces to stand at the gates of Kabul, not to try to enter the city,” a spokesman for the Taliban tweeted. 

The Taliban also instructed citizens not to leave the country out of fear, adding that no harm would befall them. 

Reports from various international news websites emerged that government employees and people panicked. However, the chief of staff to President Ashraf Ghani on Twitter urged the people of Kabul: "Please don’t worry. There is no problem. The situation of Kabul is under control."

European Union embassy staffers and envoys have been shifted to an undisclosed, safe location, said NATO authorities.

A US official confirmed that an estimated 50 employees of the US embassy are present in Kabul, as the Taliban close in on the capital city. 

Pakistan embassy in Kabul remains open despite 'risky and serious security situation'

As the Taliban stand ready for orders to take over the city, the Pakistan embassy continues to perform services for Pakistanis, Afghans and nationals of other countries, in Kabul. 

Pakistan's Ambassador to Afghanistan, Mansoor Ahmad Khan, took to Twitter to appreciate the embassy staff for caryying out their duties despite the dangerous security situation. 

"I deeply appreciate Pakistan Embassy Kabul’s officers and officials for rendering valuable services to help Pakistanis, Afghan nationals and citizens of other countries in this risky and serious security situation. Bravo my team. @PakPMO @SMQureshiPTI @PakinAfg @ForeignOfficePk," he tweeted. 

Taliban capture Jalalabad

Reuters adds: The Taliban closed in on Kabul Sunday, with the insurgents taking over the eastern city of Jalalabad without a fight, as US forces arrived in the country to evacuate its citizens. 

The fall of the last major city outside the capital secured for the insurgents the roads connecting Afghanistan to Pakistan, a western official said.

It followed the Taliban's seizure of the major northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

"There are no clashes taking place right now in Jalalabad because the governor has surrendered to the Taliban," a Jalalabad-based Afghan official told Reuters. "Allowing passage to the Taliban was the only way to save civilian lives."

Taliban fighters have swept through the country in recent weeks as US-led forces withdrew. The Taliban campaign accelerated to lightning speed in the last week, shocking Western countries as the Afghan military's defences appeared to collapse.

Biden on Saturday authorized the deployment of 5,000 troops to help evacuate citizens and ensure an "orderly and safe" drawdown of US military personnel. A US defence official said that included 1,000 newly approved troops from the 82nd Airborne Division.

Taliban fighters entered Mazar-i-Sharif on Saturday virtually unopposed as security forces escaped up the highway to neighbouring Uzbekistan, about 80 km (50 miles) to the north, provincial officials said. Unverified video on social media showed Afghan army vehicles and men in uniforms crowding the iron bridge between the Afghan town of Hairatan and Uzbekistan.

Two influential militia leaders supporting the government - Atta Mohammad Noor and Abdul Rashid Dostum - also fled. Noor said on social media that the Taliban had been handed control of Balkh province, where Mazar-i-Sharif is located, due to a "conspiracy."

In a statement late on Saturday, the Taliban said its rapid gains showed it was popularly accepted by the Afghan people and reassured both Afghans and foreigners that they would be safe.