The Taliban have declared an “amnesty” across Afghanistan, urging women to join their government, as US military flights evacuating diplomats and civilians resumed.
- A Taliban spokesman says the group does not want to make women “victims”
- After Monday’s chaotic scenes at Kabul airport, the Taliban call for calm across the country
- Afghan politicians are holding talks with Taliban leaders in Doha
After the runway at Kabul airport was cleared of thousands of people desperate to flee, the number of civilians at the airport had thinned out on Tuesday (local time).
It was in contrast to Monday’s chaotic scenes in which US troops fired to disperse crowds and people clung to an American military transport plane as it taxied for take-off.
At least seven people died in the chaos, US officials said.
The Taliban are trying to calm nerves across a tense capital city, fearful of a return to their authoritative ways after the collapse of the Afghanistan federal government, with Prime Minister Ashraf Ghani fleeing the country on Sunday.
Enamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission, said women in a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan had no reason to be afraid.
“The Islamic Emirate doesn’t want women to be victims.” Mr Samangani said, using the militants’ term for Afghanistan.
He added: “The structure of government is not fully clear, but based on experience, there should be a fully Islamic leadership and all sides should join.”
Mr Samangani remained vague on other details, however, implying people already knew the rules of Islamic law the Taliban expected them to follow.
Under the previous Taliban regime, which ruled in accordance with a harsh interpretation of Islamic law, women were largely confined to their homes.
The insurgents have sought to project greater moderation in recent years, but many Afghans remain sceptical.
Kabul airport ‘open’ for evacuations
Earlier, Stefano Pontecorvo, NATO’s senior civilian representative to Afghanistan, posted a video online showing the Kabul runway empty with American troops on the tarmac.
What appeared to be a military cargo plane could be seen in the distance from behind a chain-link fence in the footage.
The runway “is open,” he wrote on Twitter.
The German Foreign Ministry said a first German military transport plane has landed in Kabul, but it could only take seven people on board before it had to depart again.
A special military flight with some 120 Indian officials separately landed in the western state of Gujarat after taking off from Kabul’s main airport on Tuesday, the Press Trust of India and state TV reported.
Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that the staff from the Swedish Embassy in Kabul had returned to Sweden.
Across Afghanistan, the International Committee of the Red Cross said thousands had been wounded in the fighting.
US President doubles down on pullout
A resolute US President Joe Biden said he stood “squarely behind” his decision to withdraw American forces and acknowledged the “gut-wrenching” images unfolding in Kabul.
Mr Biden said he faced a choice between honouring a previously negotiated withdrawal agreement or sending thousands more troops back to begin a third decade of war.
Talks appeared to be continuing between the Taliban and several Afghan government officials, including former president Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, who once headed the country’s negotiating council.
An official with direct knowledge of the talks, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said senior Taliban leader Amir Khan Muttaqi had arrived in Kabul from Qatar.
Mr Muttaqi was the higher education minister during the Taliban’s last rule, who had begun making contact with Afghan political leaders even before Mr Ghani fled.
‘It didn’t have to end this way’
Ajmal Ahmady, the head of Afghanistan’s central bank has also fled Kabul, blaming Mr Ghani and his inexperienced advisers for the country’s “swift and complete” fall to the Taliban.
“It did not have to end this way,” the Acting Governor wrote in a long thread on Twitter.
As the Taliban advanced, Mr Ahmady said Afghanistan’s currency markets were in a panic.
The nation’s central bank was told it would not receive any more dollars, driving the price of Afghanistan’s currency, the Afghani, sharply lower.