Afghanistan Crisis Updates: Taliban Close To Forming Government As Women Protest

The Islamist militants, who have pledged a softer brand of rule than during their brutal reign of 1996-2001, must now transform from insurgent group to governing power. 

Afghanistan Crisis Updates: Taliban Close To Forming Government As Women Protest

Taliban paraded some of the military hardware they had captured during their offensive.

The Taliban said  they were close to forming a new government, as dozens of women held a rare protest for the right to work under a new regime that faces enormous economic hurdles and deep public mistrust.

The Islamist militants, who have pledged a softer brand of rule than during their brutal reign of 1996-2001, must now transform from insurgent group to governing power. 

The announcement of a cabinet, which two Taliban sources told AFP may take place on Friday following afternoon prayers, would come just days after the chaotic pullout of US forces from Afghanistan, ending America's longest war with an astounding military victory for the Islamist group.

In one of the most symbolic moments since the takeover of Kabul on August 15, the militants paraded Wednesday some of the military hardware they had captured during their offensive, even flying a Black Hawk helicopter over Kandahar, their movement's spiritual heartland.

Now, all eyes are on whether the Taliban can deliver a cabinet capable of managing a war-wracked economy and honour the movement's pledges of a more "inclusive" government.

Here are the LIVE updates on the Afghanistan Crisis:

Sep 02, 2021 23:35 (IST)
Severe Drought Leaves Afghans Hungry Amid Economic Turmoil: UN
Many Afghans were struggling to feed their families amid severe drought well before the Taliban seized power last month and millions may now face starvation with the country isolated and the economy unravelling, aid agencies say.

"In the current context there are no national safety nets...Since the 15th of August (when the Taliban took over), we have seen the crisis accelerate and magnify with the imminent economic collapse that is coming this country's way," Mary-Ellen McGroarty, World Food Programme country director in Afghanistan, told Reuters by videolink from Kabul.

In an August video provided by the WFP, Afghan women wearing head to toe-covering burqas and men in turbans line up for supplies at a U.N. food distribution centre in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. A bearded man leaves carrying a sack of 46 kilos (101.4 pounds) of fortified wheat flour on his back.
Sep 02, 2021 18:29 (IST)
Taliban And Afghan Rebels Claim Heavy Casualties In Fighting Over Panjshir Valley
Taliban forces and fighters loyal to local leader Ahmad Massoud, fought in Afghanistan's Panjshir Valley on Thursday, with each side saying it had inflicted heavy casualties in recent days of combat in the last province resisting Taliban rule.

Following the fall of Kabul on August 15, several thousand fighters from local militias and the remnants of army and special forces units have massed in Panjshir.

Under the leadership of Ahmad Massoud, son of a former Mujahideen commander, they have been holding out in the province, a steep valley that makes attacks from outside difficult.

Efforts to negotiate a settlement appear to have broken down, with each side blaming the other for the failure of talks as the Taliban prepared to announce a government.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group's fighters had entered Panjshir and taken control of some territory.
Sep 02, 2021 17:25 (IST)
Qatar working with Taliban to reopen Kabul airport 'as soon as possible'
Qatar is working with the Taliban to reopen Kabul's airport as soon as possible, its foreign minister said on Thursday, urging the hardline Islamists to allow Afghans to leave.

The airport, the scene of a frenzied evacuation which ended with the US troop withdrawal on Tuesday, is out of operation with much of its infrastructure degraded or destroyed.

"We are working very hard (and) we remain hopeful that we will be able to operate it as soon as possible," said Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani.

"Hopefully in the next few days we will hear some good news," he told a news conference in Doha.

A Qatari technical team flew into Kabul on Wednesday to discuss reopening the airport, the first plane to land there since the evacuations.

A source with knowledge of the matter said the goal was to resume flights both for humanitarian aid and to provide freedom of movement, including the resumption of evacuation efforts.
Sep 02, 2021 16:17 (IST)
ISI Behind Qaeda's "Jihad" Statement That Has Kashmir: Government Sources
After the last American soldier left Afghanistan on August 31 midnight, the terror outfit Al Qaeda released a statement in which it called for "global jihad" to liberate "Islamic lands", and mentioned Kashmir. The inclusion of Kashmir and omission of Chechnya and Xinjiang exposes the hand of Pakistan in Qaeda's ominous statement, government sources said today.

"The Qaeda statement talking about transnational jihad is a cause for concern. It is intriguing that Kashmir was included in the statement as it was never on the agenda of the Taliban earlier. The Pakistan ISI is behind this statement of Qaeda," officials told NDTV. The statement will embolden Pakistan-based terror outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad in attacks in India, government sources said.
Sep 02, 2021 15:21 (IST)
EU mulls reaction force after Afghanistan evacuation

EU defence ministers on Thursday discussed proposals for a European rapid reaction force after the bloc was left on the sidelines during the US-led evacuation from Afghanistan. 

Calls have grown for the 27-nation group to develop its own joint military capability to respond quickly to crises in the wake of the chaotic scenes at Kabul airport after the Taliban seized power.

Ministers are set to revisit a proposal -- first aired in May -- to set up a 5,000-strong force as part of a review of the EU's overall strategy expected to be finalised next year. 

But there are major doubts that there would be the political will to engage such a force, as the bloc has never used a system of so-called battlegroups set up in 2007. 

"It's clear that the need for more European defence has never been as much as evident as today after the events in Afghanistan," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said at the start of the meeting. 
Sep 02, 2021 15:10 (IST)
Taliban close to forming government as women protest

The Taliban said Thursday they were close to forming a new government, as dozens of women held a rare protest for the right to work under a new regime that faces enormous economic hurdles and deep public mistrust.

The Islamist militants, who have pledged a softer brand of rule than during their brutal reign of 1996-2001, must now transform from insurgent group to governing power. 

The announcement of a cabinet, which two Taliban sources told AFP may take place on Friday following afternoon prayers, would come just days after the chaotic pullout of US forces from Afghanistan, ending America's longest war with an astounding military victory for the Islamist group.

In one of the most symbolic moments since the takeover of Kabul on August 15, the militants paraded Wednesday some of the military hardware they had captured during their offensive, even flying a Black Hawk helicopter over Kandahar, their movement's spiritual heartland.

Sep 02, 2021 11:19 (IST)
Taliban preparing to reveal new Afghan government amid economic turmoil

Afghanistan's Taliban rulers were preparing on Thursday to unveil their new government as the economy teetered on the edge of collapse more than two weeks after the Islamist militia captured Kabul and brought a chaotic end to 20 years of war.

Taliban official Ahmadullah Muttaqi said on social media a ceremony was being prepared at the presidential palace in Kabul, while private broadcaster Tolo said an announcement on a new government was imminent.

The Islamist movement's supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, is expected to have ultimate power over a governing council, with a president below him, a senior Taliban official told Reuters last month.

The legitimacy of the new government in the eyes of international donors and investors will be crucial for Afghanistan's economy, which is likely to collapse following the Taliban's return to power, analysts said.

The supreme Taliban leader has three deputies: Mawlavi Yaqoob, son of the movement's late founder Mullah Omar; Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the powerful Haqqani network; and Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of the founding members of the group.

An unelected leadership council is how the Taliban ran their first government which brutally enforced a radical form of Sharia law from 1996 until its ouster by U.S.-led forces in 2001.

Sep 02, 2021 11:18 (IST)
Taliban Used Stadiums For Executions. Now, They Agree To Cricket Matches

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.

"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 fighters.

They have also promised to enforce a less strict version of Islamic law this time, after seizing the capital Kabul last month.

The Test match, to be played in Hobart from November 27-December 1, was scheduled for last year but was put off due to the Covid-19 pandemic and international travel restrictions.
Sep 02, 2021 07:55 (IST)
Taliban Parade To Show Off Captured US Military Equipment
The Taliban on Wednesday paraded some of the military hardware they captured during their takeover of Afghanistan, as a team from Qatar landed at the trashed airport in Kabul -- a first step towards getting the facility back up and running as a lifeline for aid.

The Qatar Airways flight, the first to land in Kabul since the US withdrew from Afghanistan Monday, brought a team of technical experts to work on the airport, a source close to the matter told AFP.

The goal was to resume flights for aid, after the United Nations warned of a looming "humanitarian catastrophe" in war-ravaged Afghanistan, and to provide a way out for those wanting to flee the new regime. 

Talks are ongoing on who will now run the airport, just one of the many daunting challenges facing the Taliban as they transition from insurgent group to governing power. 

Taliban Parade To Show Off Captured US Military Equipment

Sep 02, 2021 06:25 (IST)
Taliban Launch Charm Offensive With Afghan Banks Amid Funding Fears
The new, Taliban-appointed head of Afghanistan's central bank has sought to reassure banks the group wants a fully-functioning financial system, but has so far provided little detail on how it will supply funds to sustain it, said four bankers.
Sep 02, 2021 06:09 (IST)
In Pain And Anger, Pentagon Looks To Lessons Of 20-Year Afghan War
US defense chiefs said they felt pain and anger Wednesday and would humbly study the lessons of the Afghan war after leaving the country under control of the Taliban, whom they fought for 20 years.