The Taliban has surrounded Panjshir, the only remaining province resisting its rule, a senior leader said Wednesday, as he called on the rebels to negotiate a peaceful settlement with them, reported Reuters. Panjshir has been the only province to hold out against Taliban since the fall of Kabul on August 15.
Meanwhile, with Kabul airport remaining inoperable, the Afghans fearful of Taliban reprisals are trying to escape through the country's land borders. An AFP report quotes a source as saying that a Qatari aircraft carrying a technical team has landed in Kabul to discuss resumption of airport operations.
US President Joe Biden on Tuesday defended his decision to pull troops out of Afghanistan, saying it was in the US national interest, reported AFP.
India, meanwhile, admitted for the first time on Tuesday to having held diplomatic talks with the Taliban. An Indian envoy met a key leader of the terrorist group in Doha, Qatar's capital.
Here are the updates on the Afghanistan crisis:
An interpreter who helped rescue US President Joe Biden in a 2008 Afghan snowstorm is in hiding after failing to join the Kabul evacuation airlift, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Taliban have approved Afghanistan's first cricket Test since their takeover, raising hopes that international matches will continue as usual under the new rule of the Islamists, reported AFP. "We have got approval to send the team to Australia," chief executive of the Afghanistan Cricket Board Hamid Shinwari told AFP. During their first stint in power, before they were ousted in 2001, the Taliban banned most forms of entertainment -- including many sports -- and stadiums were used as public execution venues. The hardline Islamists do not mind cricket, however, and the game is popular among many of them. They have also promised to enforce a less strict version of Islamic law this time, after seizing the capital Kabul last month.
A Qatari aircraft landed in Kabul on Wednesday carrying a technical team to discuss resumption of airport operations after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, according to a source with knowledge of the matter, reported news agency AFP. "A Qatari jet carrying a technical team has landed in Kabul earlier today to discuss the resumption of operations in the airport," the source told AFP.
The Taliban has surrounded the only remaining province resisting its rule, a senior leader said on Wednesday, calling on rebels to negotiate a settlement with the group, reported Reuters. Since the fall of Kabul on August 15, mountainous Panjshir has been the only province to hold out against Taliban, although there has also been fighting in neighbouring Baghlan province between Taliban and local militia forces. In a recorded speech addressed to the Afghans in Panjshir, senior Taliban leader Amir Khan Motaqi called on the rebels to put down their weapons.
The European Union must take action to be better prepared for military evacuations of its citizens in situations such as occurred in Afghanistan in recent weeks, EU Council President Charles Michel said on Wednesday, reported Reuter. "In my view, we do not need another such geopolitical event to grasp that the EU must strive for greater decision-making autonomy and greater capacity for action in the world," he told the Bled Strategic Forum in Slovenia. Western nations scrambling to get their citizens out of Kabul after the Taliban takeover were dependent on the US military to keep the airport running during airlifts.
A senior board member of Afghanistan's central bank is urging the US Treasury and the International Monetary Fund to take steps to provide the Taliban-led government limited access to the country's reserves or risk economic disaster. The US administration has said any central bank assets the Afghan government have in the US will not be made available to the Taliban, and the IMF has said the country will not have access to the lender's resources.
Qatar on Wednesday urged the Taliban to ensure "safe passage" for those wanting to leave Afghanistan after the end of the US-led evacuations, reported AFP. "We stress on the Taliban the issue of freedom of movement and that there be safe passage for people to leave and enter if they so wish," Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told a press conference after a meeting with his Dutch counterpart.
The Netherlands will move its Kabul diplomatic mission to Qatar after the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag said Wednesday, following similar moves by the United States and Britain, reported AFP. "I've asked his excellency very kindly agree to the relocation of the Netherlands embassy from Kabul to Doha," Kaag told journalists after meeting her Qatari counterpart in Doha.
Crowds seeking to flee Afghanistan gathered on its borders while long queues formed at banks on Wednesday, as an administrative vacuum after the Taliban's takeover left foreign donors unsure how to respond to a looming humanitarian crisis, reported Reuters. With Kabul's airport inoperable, private efforts to help Afghans fearful of Taliban reprisals focus on arranging safe passage across the land-locked nation's borders with Iran, Pakistan and central Asian states. At Torkham, a major border crossing with Pakistan just to the east of the Khyber Pass, a Pakistani official said: "A large number of people are waiting on the Afghanistan side for the opening of the gate."
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday said Britain owed "an immense debt" to Afghans who worked with NATO forces as he announced "vital support" for those resettling in the UK." Read here.
President Joe Biden called the US airlift of more than 120,000 people from Afghanistan an "extraordinary success" Tuesday, a day after the last US soldiers pulled out of the country.