The Taliban say there is an “amnesty” across Afghanistan: the NPR


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The Taliban say there is an “amnesty” across Afghanistan, the first remarks about how they could run the country this time. Hundreds of people gathered Monday near a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane on the perimeter of Kabul airport.

Shekib Rahmani / AP


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Shekib Rahmani / AP


The Taliban say there is an “amnesty” across Afghanistan, the first remarks about how they could run the country this time. Hundreds of people gathered Monday near a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane on the perimeter of Kabul airport.

Shekib Rahmani / AP

KABUL, Afghanistan – The Taliban have declared an “amnesty” across Afghanistan and called on women to join their government on Tuesday, trying to convince the cautious population that they changed a day later deadly chaos engulfed the main airport as desperate crowds tried to flee their rule.

After a flash in Afghanistan in which many cities fell insurgency without a fight, the Taliban sought to portray themselves as more moderate than when they imposed brutal rule in the late 1990s. But many Afghans remain skeptical.

Older generations remember the Taliban’s ultra-conservative Islamic attitudes, which included strict restrictions on women, as well as stoning, amputation and public executions before they were overthrown by the US-led invasion following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Although there have been no major reports of abuse or fighting in the capital, Kabul, as the Taliban now patrol its streets, many residents have remained at home and remain in fear after insurgents took over empty prisons and looted gunhouses. Many women have expressed fears that a two-decade-long Western experiment in expanding their rights and reshaping Afghanistan will not survive the revived Taliban.

Germany, meanwhile, has halted development aid to Afghanistan over the Taliban takeover. Such assistance is a key source of funding for the state – and the Taliban’s efforts to project a milder version of itself could be aimed at ensuring cash flow.

The declaration marks the first remarks on how this regime could run Afghanistan

The promises of amnesty given by Enamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban Cultural Commission, were the first comments on how the Taliban could rule at the national level. His remarks remained unclear, however, as the Taliban are still negotiating with the country’s political leaders and the country’s formal handover agreement has not been announced.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has announced with full dignity and honesty a complete amnesty for the whole of Afghanistan, especially those who have been in opposition for years or have supported the occupiers for years and recently,” he said.

Other Taliban leaders have said they will not take revenge on those who have worked with the Afghan government or foreign countries. But some in Kabul claim that Taliban fighters have lists of people who have cooperated with the government and are looking for them.

Samangani also described women as “the main victims of more than 40 years of crisis in Afghanistan”.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan does not want women to be victims anymore,” he said. “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is ready to provide women with an environment for work and learning, and the presence of women in various (governmental) structures according to Islamic law and in accordance with our cultural values.”

Pakistani paramilitary guards guard as people enter Pakistan through the Chaman border crossing on Tuesday.

Jafar Khan / AP


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Jafar Khan / AP


Pakistani paramilitary guards guard as people enter Pakistan through the Chaman border crossing on Tuesday.

Jafar Khan / AP

Women were violently repressed the last time the Taliban were in power

That would be a significant departure from the last time the Taliban were in power, when women were mostly locked up in their homes. Samangani did not describe exactly what he meant by Islamic law, implying that people already knew the rules. He added that “all parties should join” the government.

In another sign of the Taliban’s efforts to present a new image, a female TV presenter on private television Tolo interviewed a Taliban official on camera in the studio on Tuesday – an interaction that was once unthinkable. Meanwhile, women in hijab briefly demonstrated in Kabul holding signs urging the Taliban not to “eliminate women” from public life.

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, also noted the Taliban’s vows and fear of those now under their rule.

“Such promises will have to be kept, and for now – again understandably, given the past – these declarations have been greeted with some skepticism,” he said in a statement. “There has been a lot of hard progress in human rights over the past two decades. The rights of all Afghans must be defended.”

Different countries are considering whether to reduce or increase their humanitarian aid

Germany has suspended development aid to Afghanistan, estimated at 250 million euros ($ 294 million) for 2021. The German news agency dpa described Afghanistan as the country that received the most development aid from Berlin. Other funds go separately for security services and humanitarian aid.

Swedish Development Aid Minister Per Olsson Fridh, meanwhile, said his government would slow aid to the country in an interview with the newspaper Dagens Nyheter. But Britain has pledged to increase.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said humanitarian aid could increase by 10%. He said the aid budget would be reconfigured for development and humanitarian purposes and that the Taliban would not receive money previously earmarked for security – but said aid would not be conditional on the way the Taliban ruled.

Monday was a day of turmoil at Kabul airport as many Afghans tried to flee

Meanwhile, Kabul International Airport, the only exit for many, has reopened for military evacuation flights under the supervision of U.S. troops.

All flights were suspended on Monday when thousands of people rushed to the airport, desperate to leave the country. In the shocking scenes recorded on the videos, some held on to the plane as it took off and then crashed to death. At least seven people were killed in the chaos at the airport, U.S. officials said.

Stefano Pontecorvo, NATO’s senior civilian representative in Afghanistan, posted a video on the Internet on Tuesday, showing the runway empty with US troops on the tarmac. In the distance one could see what looked like a military cargo plane.

“I see planes landing and taking off,” he wrote on Twitter.

Overnight, flight tracking data showed that a U.S. military plane took off for Qatar, where the front headquarters of the U.S. Central Command was located. A British military cargo plane, which was heading towards Kabul, took off from Dubai.

However, there were indications that the situation remained weak. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul, which now operates from the airport, called on Americans to report online for evacuation, but not to come to the airport before contacting them.

The German Foreign Ministry said the first German military transport plane landed in Kabul, but that only seven people could enter it before it had to take off again due to continued chaos.

U.S. troops guard along the perimeter at Kabul airport on Monday.

Shekib Rahmani / AP


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Shekib Rahmani / AP


U.S. troops guard along the perimeter at Kabul airport on Monday.

Shekib Rahmani / AP

Biden is firmly in favor of withdrawing the United States from Afghanistan

Across Afghanistan, the International Committee of the Red Cross has said thousands of people have been wounded in fighting as the Taliban have flooded the country in recent days. However, in many places security forces and politicians have surrendered their provinces and bases without a fight, probably in fear of what will happen when the last U.S. troops withdraw as planned by the end of the month.

A determined U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday, he said he was “completely behind” his decision to withdraw U.S. forces and confirmed the “gut-destroying images” taking place in Kabul. Biden said he was faced with a choice between honoring a previously agreed agreement to withdraw or send thousands more troops back to start the third decade of the war.

“After 20 years, I learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw American forces,” Biden said in a televised address from the White House.

Talks resumed Tuesday between the Taliban and several Afghan government officials, including former President Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, who once chaired the country’s negotiating council. Talks focused on how the government will act with Taliban governments given the changes in Afghanistan over the past 20 years, rather than on the division of who controls which ministries, officials familiar with the negotiations said. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential details of the conversation.

President Ashraf Ghani had earlier fled the country due to Taliban advance, and his whereabouts remain unknown.


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