Afghan President Ashraf Ghani leaves Afghanistan; Taliban enters Kabul, seeks unconditional surrender

The Taliban, whose fighters encircled capital Kabul, has reportedly been seeking the unconditional surrender of the Afghan government even as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and National Security Adviser Hamidullah Mohib left the country this evening, multiple reports said

Aug 15, 2021
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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani leaves Afghanistan

The Taliban, whose fighters encircled capital Kabul, has reportedly been seeking the unconditional surrender of the Afghan government even as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and National Security Adviser Hamidullah Mohib left the country this evening, multiple reports said. 

The insurgent group said on Sunday evening that they were entering the capital to stop chaos and looting, and asked the capital’s residents not to panic as their fighters were making an entry to occupy outposts abandoned by government forces. 

After staging a 20 years-long insurgency against the US-backed Afghan government, the Sunni Islamist group is all set to take power in the country, as the intense months-long military routed most of the poorly trained and motivated Afghan forces.  

The Afghan government and senior leaders like Abdullah Abdullah and former President Hamid Karzai are reportedly overseeing negotiations with the Taliban for the peaceful transfer of power to save the densely populated capital Kabul--home to almost 5 million people-- from the destruction.  

There are also reports of setting up a transitional government for that purpose. 

As much as the pace of the Taliban’s military assault stunned the world, the speed at which the Afghan forces, trained by US forces for almost 20 years, melted away in the last ten days shocked the world equally. 

The group now effectively controls almost 30 of its total 34 provinces, barring Kabul and a few others whose provincial capitals. 

The only senior Afghan leader, still refusing to surrender or stop fighting, is First Vice-President Amrullah Saleh, a known fiercest critic of the Taliban. He has reportedly flown out of Kabul to Panjshir, a northern Afghan province that never came under the Taliban's control. In a tweet, he said he will never surrender to the Taliban and will mobilize resistance. 

Northern warlords like Atta Mohammad Noor and Abdul Rashid Dostum, who kept resisting against the Taliban until yesterday in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, also escaped to neighboring Uzbekistan, citing “conspiracy” against them. The Taliban entered the city last night. 

Meanwhile, the US troops are engaged in a hectic evacuation, pulling out over 4000 personnel posted at the sprawling US Embassy compound in Kabul. Other western embassies are also following the suit.

The collapse of the Afghan forces became clear on Saturday, bring an ignominious end to the two-decade-long American project to build and raise independent Afghan security forces to defend their country on its own. 

US President Joe Biden, who faced one of his first major foreign policy challenge, has been at the receiving end of global criticism to withdraw all American troops and abandoning the common people of Afghanistan to their fate. In a statement on Saturday, he appeared to justify his decision to withdraw troops. 

“One more year, or five more years, of US military presence, would not have made a difference if the Afghan military can’t or will not hold its own country,” he said in the statement, hinting his frustration at the meltdown of the Afghan security forces that the US poured into a whopping $90 billion. 

In Kabul, it was a completely chaotic day, with roads leading to the airport completely jammed as people, including members of parliament, senior officials, lined up to get out of the country. Latest reports showed thousands of people are stuck as all civilian fights from the Hamid Karzai International Airport have been suspended, according to some reports. 

(SAM) 

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