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Afghanistan crisis: Taliban today held first news conference in capital city Kabul, which fell to militants on Sunday. The Taliban today declared they wanted peaceful relations with other countries and would respect the rights of women within the framework of Islamic law. "We don't want any internal or external enemies," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said. 

Mujahid said women would be allowed to work and study and "will be very active in society but within the framework of Islam." The Taliban news conference came as the US and Western allies evacuated diplomats and civilians the day after scenes of chaos at Kabul airport as Afghans desperate to flee the Taliban thronged to the terminal. 

YouTube says it bans accounts believed to be owned by Taliban

Alphabet Inc's YouTube said it has banned accounts that are believed to be owned and operated by the Taliban, as U.S. social media companies scrambled to clarify their rules on the group that is in control of Afghanistan.

Separately, the Financial Times reported that Facebook Inc's WhatsApp messaging service has shut down a complaints helpline set up by the Taliban after it took control of the Afghan capital Kabul.

Afghanistan war over, everyone pardoned: Taliban 

The Taliban today said the war in Afghanistan was over and that all their opponents would be pardoned. "War has ended... (the leader) has pardoned everyone," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said, adding: "We are committed to letting women work in accordance with the principles of Islam." 

Mujahid said the Taliban would soon be establishing a government, but gave little detail of its make-up apart from saying they would "connect with all sides".

"All those in the opposite side are pardoned from A to Z," he said. "We will not seek revenge."

Taliban may support terrorist activities in Kashmir: BJP's CT Ravi

Taliban is a terrorist organization and is supported by Pakistan. China is also helping them. Taliban may support terrorist activities in Kashmir and provoke Khalistan supporters. I feel we should adopt Israel's counter-terrorism strategy, says BJP General Secretary CT Ravi.  

Will work with Taliban only if rights are respected: EU

The EU will only cooperate with the Taliban if it respects fundamental rights, including women, and prevents the use of Afghanistan's territory by terrorists, the bloc's foreign policy chief said on Tuesday. "Cooperation with any future Afghan government will be conditioned on a peaceful and inclusive settlement and respect for the fundamental rights of all Afghans, including women, youth and persons belonging to minorities, as well as respect for Afghanistan’s international obligations, commitment to the fight against corruption and preventing the use of Afghanistan’s territory by terrorist organisations," he said in a statement.

Has Taliban's ideology changed? Here's what spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said 

In response to question about differences between 1990s Taliban and today's, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said the ideology and beliefs are the same because they are Muslims, but there is a change in terms of experience — they are more experienced and have a different perspective. We want to establish a government that includes all sides, TOLOnews quotes Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid. 

What PM Modi said in high-level security meet on Afghanistan

PM Modi instructed all officials concerned to undertake all necessary measures to ensure safe evacuation of Indian nationals from Afghanistan in the coming days. “India must not only protect our citizens, but we must also provide refuge to Sikh and Hindu minorities who want to come to India and we must also provide all possible help to our Afghan brothers and sisters who are looking towards India for assistance".

Russian ambassador talks to Taliban in Kabul

The Russian ambassador to Afghanistan said he had a “constructive" and “positive" meeting with Taliban representatives in Kabul to discuss security for the Russian diplomatic mission. Ambassador Dmitry Zhirnov told Russian state TV that the meeting was “dedicated exclusively to the security of the embassy" and involved “senior Taliban representatives in the city who were accepting the surrender of the remnants of the self-disbanded Afghan national security forces." “The meeting was positive and constructive," Zhirnov said. “The Taliban representatives said the Taliban has the friendliest...approach to Russia. They confirmed guarantees of security for the embassy." (AP)

Canada will not recognize Taliban government: PM Trudeau

Canada has no plans to recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan's government following the Islamist movement's takeover of Kabul, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday. "Canada has no plans to recognize the Taliban as the Government of Afghanistan," Trudeau told reporters. "They have taken over and replaced a duly elected democratic government by force." (Reuters)

Committed to providing women their rights based on Islam: Taliban 

Taliban are committed to providing women their rights based on Islam. Women can work in the health sector and other sectors where they are needed. There will be no discrimination against women, TOLO News quotes Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid as saying. 

Security of embassies in Kabul is of crucial importance to us: Taliban 

The security of embassies in Kabul is of crucial importance to us. We would like to assure all foreign countries that our forces are there to ensure the security of all embassies, missions, international organizations, and aid agencies: Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid

LIVE UPDATES 

Mullah Baradar, chief of Taliban's political office arrives in Kandahar

Mullah Baradar, the chief of the Taliban's political office, has arrived in Afghanistan's Kandahar province along with a delegation, the group's spokesperson said in a tweet. 

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of the co-founders of the Taliban, now heads its political office and is part of the negotiating team that the group has in Doha, where talks on a ceasefire had been underway.

Baradar, reported to have been one of Mullah Omar's most trusted commanders, was captured in 2010 by security forces in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi and released in 2018.

Afghan VP claims he's now caretaker President

The Afghan vice president is claiming that after President Ashraf Ghani fled in the face of the Taliban sweep into Kabul and with his whereabouts unknown, the vice president is the country’s “legitimate" caretaker president. Amrullah Saleh made the comment on Twitter on Tuesday. He cited the Afghan constitution was empowering him to declare this. He wrote that he was “reaching out to all leaders to secure their support and consensus."

"According to the explicit provision of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, in case of absence, escape or death of the President, the First Vice President will be the acting President. I am inside the country and I am legally and legitimately in charge of this position/chair. I am consulting with all the leaders of the country to strengthen this position," he tweets.

99 commandos, 3 sniffer dogs land as entire ITBP detachment returns from Afghanistan

A contingent of 99 ITBP commandos along with three sniffer dogs landed at the Hindon IAF base today onboard a military evacuation flight from Taliban-captured Afghanistan. The commandos also brought back their personal weapons and belongings and will now undergo a week-long COVID-19 quarantine at a Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) facility in Delhi. "With this, our complete contingent deployed for securing the Embassy in Kabul, its four consulates in Afghanistan and diplomats have returned. The commandos came along with the Embassy staffers along with other Indian nationals," ITBP spokesperson Vivek Kumar Pandey said.

Taliban hindering evacuation of Afghans: German minister

Taliban checks at Kabul airport are making it more difficult to evacuate Afghans who worked for Western forces, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Tuesday as international forces scrambled to get people out of the country. "The situation is much more dangerous (for Afghans) because there is no promise of being let through at the Taliban checkpoints," Maas said ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers. He added that German and US forces were working to grant them safe access to the airport, which was mobbed by thousands of panicked people trying to escape on Monday after the Taliban seized control of the country.

Taliban promises to respect press freedom: RSF

A Taliban spokesman has promised that journalists will not be persecuted in Afghanistan and that women will be allowed to continue working in the media, campaign group RSF said in a statement. RSF, a Paris-based media freedom organisation, said the assurances were given by Zabihullah Mujahid in a conversation on Sunday as the extremist group was taking over the capital Kabul. "We will respect freedom of the press, because media reporting will be useful to society and will be able to help correct the leaders' errors," Mujahid was quoted as saying. "Through this statement to RSF, we declare to the world that we recognise the importance of the role of the media." (AFP)

Getting out Indian envoy from Afghanistan was ‘difficult’: S Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar today said that the movement of the Indian Ambassador and the Embassy staff from war-torn Afghanistan to India was a "difficult and complicated exercise". “Movement of the Indian Ambassador and the Embassy staff from Kabul to India was a difficult and complicated exercise. Thank all those whose cooperation and facilitation made it possible," he said in a tweet. 

The C-17 Globemaster aircraft of the Indian Air Force carrying around 150 people, including diplomats, officials, security personnel and some stranded Indians, landed at the Hindon airbase near the national capital at around 5 PM after a brief halt at Jamnagar in Gujarat, in the wake of escalating tension, fear and uncertainty gripping the Afghan capital after its take over by the Taliban two days back. 

Russia says no rush to recognise Taliban

Russia is in no hurry to recognise the Taliban as legitimate authorities in Afghanistan, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday, calling for an inclusive government to be set up involving all Afghan ethnic groups. "... We see encouraging signs from the Taliban who say they would like to have a government that includes other political forces," Lavrov told reporters. "But it would be premature to say that we are going to start making some political steps unilaterally." Lavrov urged all ethnic groups in Afghanistan to convene for talks on the country's future after the withdrawal of U.S. States-led forces led to the fall of its previous government.

India shares update on current situation in Afghanistan

A number of Indians are stranded in Afghanistan, some of whom are employed by third country organizations. Our immediate priority is to obtain accurate information about all Indian nationals currently in Afghanistan. They and / or their employers are requested to urgently share the relevant details with MEA’s Special Afghanistan Cell — Phone: +91-11-49016783, +91-11-49016784, +91-11-49016785; WhatsApp: +91 80106 11290; Email: SituationRoom@mea.gov.in —

As regards Afghan nationals, our visa services will continue through an e-Emergency visa facility, which has been extended to Afghan nationals. This can be accessed through our e-visa portal at https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/Registration. We have already received requests from Afghan Sikh and Hindu community leaders, and are in touch with them.

The main challenge for travel to and from Afghanistan is the operational status of Kabul airport. This has been discussed at high levels with our partners, including by EAM with the US Secretary of State. Government of India is committed to the safe return of all Indian nationals and will institute flight arrangements once Kabul airport is open for commercial operations.

India on evacuations, and Taliban regime in Afghanistan

For evacuations, India parked its C-17 at Ayni Air Base in Tajikistan as there was a huge rush at Kabul airport in Afghanistan. So Indian aircraft were on standby at Ayni Air Base and they flew to Kabul when cleared by the US which is controlling Kabul Airport, news agency ANI reports citing sources. It says that India is also exploring options to hire charter planes to evacuate more Indians from Afghanistan. 

On Taliban regime, India says it wait and watch how inclusive will be the government formation and how the militant group conduct. India will also watch how other democracies react to the Taliban regime. 

There are security concerns that Afghanistan might become the first epicenter of Islamic terrorism which has a state, they have access to all the weapons which Americans have supplied and also the weapons of 3 lakh plus Afghan National Army personnel. 

Pakistan based groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi have some presence in Afghanistan, they have built check posts in some villages and parts of Kabul, along with Taliban. There will be increased security vigil in Kashmir but things are in control and Pakistan based groups in Afghanistan have little capacity to use the situation. 

Taliban has clarified its position on Kashmir. It regards it as a bilateral, internal issue; their focus is unlikely to be on Kashmir. Pakistan spy agency ISI will try and influence the Taliban. However, it will have very limited effect as Taliban has acquired power in a position of strength. ISI can only influence weak Taliban but it looks unlikely in the present situation, the news agency quotes sources as saying. 

Germany halts development aid for Afghanistan: AFP

Indian Embassy in Kabul not closed 

The Indian Embassy in Afghanistan's Kabul is not closed, local staff is providing consular services. More than 1,650 people have applied for their return to India, news agency ANI reported citing sources. 

41 Keralites stranded in Kabul

The Kerala government today said at least 41 Malayalis including women and children have been stranded in Taliban-controlled Kabul and requested the Centre to make necessary arrangements for their safe evacuation to the home country. The state government sent letters to the External Affairs Ministry seeking immediate steps for their repatriation. K Elangovan, Principal Secretary to the state government, sent letter to the Ministry detailing the plight of the stranded Keralites there. "An estimated 41 Malayalis including women and children working in various companies have requested the government to arrange for their safe evacuation immediately to India," Elangovan said in the letter.

Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan on situation in Kabul

Indian Envoy to Afghanistan, Rudrendra Tandon: It's not that we have abandoned people of Afghanistan, their welfare and our relationship with them is very much in our mind. We will try and continue our interaction with them, I can't exactly say in what form as situation is changing. We are continuously monitoring the situation because there are still some Indian citizens who are there. That is why Air India will continue to run its commercial services to Kabul as long as the airport in Kabul functions.

Temporarily Air India had to suspend its commercial services because of the conditions in the airport. However, we continue to ensure that anyone who is stuck there is somehow brought here for which the MEA has opened a help desk that is operating already. There are many others who continue to work in Kabul city, despite the changing situation and have changed their mind subsequently and will be brought back when the commercial services begin.

Taliban Say Women Can Work, Shifting From Stance Before 9/11

The Taliban will allow women to work in their government under certain conditions, marking a shift on a topic that will help determine whether the U.S. and its allies officially recognize the militant group’s authority in Afghanistan. Women are allowed to work “where they so choose" within the bounds of Shariah law, according to a Taliban official who asked not to be identified due to the group’s rules for speaking to the media. Those jobs could be in government, the private sector, trade and elsewhere, he said.

Earlier, Associated Press cited a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission saying women “should be in the government structure according to Shariah law. “The Islamic Emirate doesn’t want women to be victims," the news organization quoted Enamullah Samangani as saying. 

The U.S. and other nations in recent days have tied official recognition of the Taliban to its willingness to form an inclusive government, with the United Nations Security Council calling for “the full, equal and meaningful participation of women." The fundamentalist Islamists have sought to project a more moderate image as they get set to take power following a lightning-fast military blitz as U.S. troops leave the country after 20 years of war. (Bloomberg)

Twitter on Afghanistan situation

- Twitter: “The situation in Afghanistan is rapidly evolving. We are also witnessing people in the country using Twitter to seek help and assistance. Twitter’s top priority is keeping people safe, and we remain vigilant. We will continue to proactively enforce our rules and review content that may violate Twitter Rules, specifically policies against the glorification of violence, platform manipulation and spam".

Afghanistan central banker flees, currency drops amid tumult

Afghanistan’s acting central bank governor departed the country as Taliban fighters took control of the capital, with the political turmoil pushing the nation’s currency to a record low. The Afghani fell as much as 1.7% on Tuesday to 83.5013 per dollar, a fourth day of decline, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The central bank was told there would be no more dollar shipments on Friday, which curtailed its ability to supply currency and led to more panic, acting Governor Ajmal Ahmady wrote in a Twitter thread.

Ahmady boarded a military plane at Kabul airport, where thousands sought to leave as the Taliban’s rapid territorial advance led to the collapse of the government. There was no evacuation plan, and President Ashraf Ghani’s departure without creating a transitional government contributed to the chaos, Ahmady wrote. “Currency spiked from a stable 81 to almost 100 then back to 86," the central banker wrote. “I held meetings on Saturday to reassure banks and money exchangers to calm them down." (Bloomberg)

Highlights of Joe Biden's address on Afghanistan 

- Our mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to have been nation building. It was never supposed to be creating a unified, centralized democracy. Our only vital national interest in Afghanistan remains today what it has always been: preventing a terrorist attack on American homeland. 

- I’ve argued for many years that our mission should be narrowly focused on counterterrorism — not counterinsurgency or nation building. That’s why I opposed the surge when it was proposed in 2009 when I was Vice President. And that’s why, as President, I am adamant that we focus on the threats we face today in 2021 — not yesterday’s threats.

- I stand squarely behind my decision. After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces. That’s why we were still there. We were clear-eyed about the risks. We planned for every contingency. But I always promised the American people that I will be straight with you. The truth is: This did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated.

- So what’s happened? Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight. If anything, the developments of the past week reinforced that ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision. 

- American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves. We spent over a trillion dollars. We trained and equipped an Afghan military force of some 300,000 strong — incredibly well equipped — a force larger in size than the militaries of many of our NATO allies.

- We gave them every tool they could need. We paid their salaries, provided for the maintenance of their air force — something the Taliban doesn’t have. Taliban does not have an air force. We provided close air support. We gave them every chance to determine their own future. What we could not provide them was the will to fight for that future.

- There’s some very brave and capable Afghan special forces units and soldiers, but if Afghanistan is unable to mount any real resistance to the Taliban now, there is no chance that 1 year — 1 more year, 5 more years, or 20 more years of U.S. military boots on the ground would’ve made any difference.

- And here’s what I believe to my core: It is wrong to order American troops to step up when Afghanistan’s own armed forces would not. If the political leaders of Afghanistan were unable to come together for the good of their people, unable to negotiate for the future of their country when the chips were down, they would never have done so while U.S. troops remained in Afghanistan bearing the brunt of the fighting for them.

India evacuates 170 people including ambassador

An Indian Air Force plane today evacuated over 170 people from Kabul, including India's ambassador to Afghanistan as diplomats and civilians scrambled to get out of the country after the Taliban seized the capital. The flight landed in the western Indian city of Jamnagar for refuelling on the way to Delhi, Jamnagar collector Sourabh Pardhi told Reuters. 

Speaking to reporters, Ambassador Rudrendra Tandon said that nearly 200 personnel of the Indian mission in Afghanistan had been evacuated within three days, alongside Indian civilians working in the country. "You cannot imagine how great it is to be back home," Tandon said. "We are back home safely, securely, without any accidents or harm to any of our people." Tandon described the situation in Afghanistan as "fluid", adding that a small number of Indian nationals remained in the country who authorities were attempting to bring back.

Taliban announces 'amnesty', urges women to join government

The Taliban declared an “amnesty" across Afghanistan and urged women to join their government on Tuesday, seeking to convince a wary population that they have changed a day. The Taliban have sought to portray themselves as more moderate than when they imposed a brutal rule in the late 1990s. But many Afghans remain skeptical. Older generations remember the Taliban's ultraconservative Islamic views, which included severe restrictions on women as well as stonings, amputations and public executions before they were ousted by the US-led invasion that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Many women have expressed dread that the two-decade Western experiment to expand their rights and remake Afghanistan would not survive the resurgent Taliban. (AP)

Taliban order fighters to respect foreigners in Afghanistan

The Taliban have ordered their fighters to maintain discipline and not enter any diplomatic buildings or interfere with embassy vehicles, and for ordinary people to go about their business as usual, a senior official of the group said on Tuesday. "Taliban members have been ordered at all levels to ensure that we don't disrespect any country's presence in Afghanistan," said the senior official, who declined to be identified. (Reuters)

WHO concerned about Covid in Afghanistan as jabs slow

The World Health Organization (WHO) is worried about the spread of Covid in Afghanistan as chaos caused by the Taliban has slowed vaccinations, a spokesperson said on Tuesday. 

WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic also told a U.N. briefing that the chaos at Kabul airport, where thousands of people are trying to flee the Taliban, was slowing deliveries of medical supplies.

-Social media giant Facebook has said that it has banned the Taliban and all content supporting it from its platforms as it considers the group to be a terrorist organisation, according to a media report.

-Video and pictures published by the Taliban on Twitter and elsewhere show fighters carrying M4 carbines and M16 rifles discarded by Afghan army units. Other images show Taliban forces capturing abandoned government vehicles.

The U.S. guns are more accurate and have greater range than the their AK-47s, but on their own may not deliver much added capability on the battlefield.

-After negotiations for over 24 hours, India has managed to evacuate the second batch of diplomats, officials and journalists from Kabul using an Indian Air Force C-17 heavy-lift aircraft. The IAF aircraft flew from Hamid Karzai Airport around 8am Kabul time with the help of US forces manning the ATC. Indian ambassador to Afghanistan Rudrendra Tandon is on the flight along with 120 other diplomats and officials.

-Amid the efforts to coordinate the evacuation of Indian citizens from Afghanistan, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval spoke to his US counterpart Jake Sullivan in detail last evening.

-Military flights evacuating diplomats and civilians from Afghanistan restarted early on Tuesday after the runway at Kabul airport was cleared of thousands of people desperate to flee after the Taliban seized the capital.

-Pakistan has emphasised the importance of an "inclusive" political settlement in Afghanistan as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and discussed the chaotic and rapidly changing situation in the war-ravaged country.

-Afghanistan’s central bank governor departed the country as Taliban fighters took control of the capital, with the rising political turmoil pushing the nation’s currency to a record low.

-Taiwan would not collapse like Afghanistan in the event of an attack, Premier Su Tseng-chang said on Tuesday, offering an indirect warning to powerful neighbour China not to be "deluded" into thinking it could take the island.

 

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