Written by Vedika Pathania, a second-year student.
Please note – the contents of this article may be disturbing for a younger audience. Meant for ages 15 and above
The Taliban seized control in Afghanistan two weeks before the United States was due to end a two-decade war by withdrawing its troops. Kabul fell to the Taliban on Sunday, completing their takeover of the nation in a swift onslaught that saw provinces and warlords surrender without resistance.
The Taliban is an Islamist religious-political movement and military organization in Afghanistan. They are regarded by many governments as terrorists.
What happened on the 16th of August in Kabul?
Thousands of Afghans anxious to flee the country flocked to Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport today, witnesses claim, where at least seven people were murdered. It’s unclear if the victims died as a result of gunfire or a stampede. In photos shared on social media, many people were seen hanging on to a US military transport jet as it taxied down the runway. Another video showed a number of people tumbling into the air as the jet climbed quickly over the city.
Meanwhile, a nervous quiet descended on the city, with most residents sheltering in their houses while the Taliban stationed militants at important crossroads. There were tales of looting and armed individuals banging on doors and gates, and the streets were unusually silent. Vehicles were also searched by fighters at one of the city’s key squares.
A US defense official told Reuters that the US briefly delayed all evacuation planes from Kabul to remove civilians who had congregated on the airstrip. The person, who requested anonymity, did not specify how long the delay would continue. The American embassy was also evacuated, with officials going to the airport to assist with the evacuation. The air space of Afghanistan was declared uncontrolled when the Taliban gained control of Kabul, including its airport, and planes crossing the nation were requested to divert.
Where is President Ashraf Ghani?
As the Taliban advanced on Kabul, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced that he had left the nation to avert bloodshed. After fleeing his nation under a Taliban takeover, the United Arab Emirates said on Wednesday that it is sheltering the Afghan President “on humanitarian grounds.”
Protests against the Taliban
On the 18th, the first resistance to the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan looked to elicit a violent response from the country’s new rulers. According to eyewitnesses, the Taliban opened fire on a protest where the national flag was unfurled, killing at least three people and injuring more than a dozen more. The firing comes as unprecedented discussions between the Taliban and former President Hamid Karzai and other officials have begun in Kabul, raising hopes of forming a “unity government.”
People took down the Taliban banner and unfurled the red, green, and black national flag at a protest today in Jalalabad, the final city to fall to the Taliban before Kabul, according to reports.
This was the first major retaliation against the Taliban since they marched into Kabul on Sunday, sparking a mass flight of thousands of Afghan people, including women, children, and those who assisted US forces throughout the 20-year occupation. Though the Taliban has attempted to present a kinder image this time, proclaiming a general amnesty and encouraging women to join their government activities, memories of public flogging, death, and stoning for adultery during their rule from 1996 to 2001 remain vivid. Many people are concerned about their safety and livelihood.
What happens next?
The Taliban have stated their desire to create an “inclusive, Islamic administration” with other groups. They are negotiating with prominent politicians, including former government officials.
According to the Associated Press, they have promised to uphold Islamic law while also ensuring a safe atmosphere for the resumption of regular life after decades of fighting. Many Afghans, however, are wary of the Taliban, fearing that their reign would be harsh and repressive. One indicator that many are concerned about is their desire to rename the country the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as they did the previous time they governed.
The Indian Embassy
With the US military assuming control of Kabul’s airport following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, India on Tuesday evacuated its entire embassy in Kabul, including Ambassador Rudrendra Tandon, aboard a special IAF aircraft, putting an end to a 24-hour period of uncertainty.
India has withdrawn all of its diplomats and employees from the embassy for the second time since 1996, both times after the Taliban took control. Owing to the Taliban rise in Kandahar and Mazar-e-Sharif in recent weeks, and previously due to Covid in Herat and Jalalabad, India has evacuated its diplomatic employees from those consulates.
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