Wali Sabawaoon / AP
KABUL, Afghanistan-The Taliban on Tuesday announced a temporary cabinet that paid tribute to the group’s old guard, giving leading positions to Taliban figures who have dominated a 20-year fight against the US-led coalition and its allies in the Afghan government.
Interim Prime Minister Mullah Hassan Akhund has headed the Taliban government in Kabul in the last years of its rule. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who held talks with the United States and signed an agreement that led to America’s final withdrawal from Afghanistan, will be one of Ahund’s two deputies.
There was no evidence of the existence of the Taliban, which is a great demand of the international community.
The Taliban dispersed the protesters with sharp tactics
The announcement of the cabinet’s appointment by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahide came hours after the Taliban fired into the air to disperse protesters and arrest several journalists. .
Protesters gathered in front of the Pakistani embassy to accuse Islamabad of aiding a Taliban attack on the northern province of Panjshir. The Taliban said Monday they had taken over the province – the latter are not under their control – after their flash through Afghanistan last month.
The previous Afghan government routinely accused Pakistan of helping the Taliban, which Islamabad denied. Former Vice President Amrullah Saleh, one of the leaders of the anti-Taliban forces, has long been an outspoken critic of neighboring Pakistan.
Dozens of women were among the protesters on Tuesday. Some of them wore signs mourning the killing of their sons by Taliban fighters who are said to have been helped by Pakistan. One sign read, “I am a mother when you kill my son, you kill a part of me.”
On Saturday, Taliban special forces in camouflage fired their weapons into the air to end a protest march by Afghan women in the capital seeking equal rights from the new rulers.
The Taliban again quickly and sharply stopped the protest that arrived near the presidential palace on Tuesday. They fired their weapons into the air and arrested several journalists who were following the demonstrations. In one case, Taliban waving Kalashnikov rifles took a microphone from a journalist and started beating him with it, breaking the microphone. The journalist was later handcuffed and detained for several hours.
“This is the third time the Taliban have beaten me by covering protests,” he told the Associated Press on condition that he would not be identified because he feared retaliation. “I’m not going to cover the demonstrations again. It’s too hard for me.”
The journalist of the popular Afghan TOLO news was detained by the Taliban for three hours before being released along with equipment and footage of the demonstration which is still intact.
The Taliban did not immediately comment.
Afghans are still trying to leave the country
Meanwhile, in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, four planes hired to evacuate about 2,000 Afghans fleeing Taliban authorities were still at the airport.
Mawlawi Abdullah Mansour, a Taliban official in charge of the city airport, said any passenger, Afghan or foreigner, with a passport and a valid visa would be allowed to leave. Most travelers are believed to be Afghans without proper travel documents.
None of the passengers arrived at the airport. Instead, organizers apparently told the evacuated people to travel to Mazar-e-Sharif and find accommodation until they were invited to come to the airport.
The Taliban say they are trying to find out who out of about 2,000 people have valid travel documents.
The United States says it will keep the Taliban on a promise to allow people to leave
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Qatar on Tuesday that the Taliban had given guarantees of safe passage for anyone wishing to leave Afghanistan with appropriate travel documents.
He said the United States would keep the Taliban on that promise. “As far as I understand, the Taliban did not deny the exit to anyone who has a valid document, but they said that those who do not have valid documents cannot leave at this moment,” he said.
“Since all these people are grouped, it means that flights are not allowed,” he added.
The State Department is also working with the Taliban to allow additional charter flights from Kabul to people trying to leave Afghanistan after the departure of the U.S. military and diplomacy, Blinken said at a joint news conference with Qatar’s top diplomatic and defense officials.
“In the last hours,” the United States has been in contact with Taliban officials to agree on additional charter flights from the Afghan capital, he said.
Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin were in Qatar to thank the Gulf state for helping transit tens of thousands of people evacuated from Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of Kabul on August 15.