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Taliban claim control of Panjshir, promise possible care-taker govt ‘soon’

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(Last Updated On: September 6, 2021)

The Taliban on Monday claimed victory over resistance forces in Panjshir province, the last province to fall.

Announcing the development, the Taliban said it has completed its take over of Afghanistan and will soon announce a new government.

Pictures on social media showed Taliban members standing in front of the gates of the Panjshir provincial governor’s compound following clashes over the weekend with the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRFA), led by Ahmad Massoud.

“Panjshir, which was the last hideout of the escapee enemy, is captured,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told a news conference in Kabul.

“We wanted to resolve the Panjshir issue through talks, we tried very hard. But some who had fled Kabul, carrying weapons and vehicles from the treasury, wanted to disturb the nation. They responded negatively to our delegations,” Mujahid added.

Earlier, he had said: “With this victory and latest efforts, our country has come out of the whirlpool of war and our people will have a happy life in peace, liberty and freedom.”

According to the report the Taliban assured the people of Panjshir that there would be no “discriminatory acts against them”.

“The people living in the proud valley of Panjshir are an integral part of our body. They are our brothers. There is no bias against them. All the rights that our other countrymen have, the people of Panjshir also have,” Mujahid said.

Massoud, who leads a force drawn from remnants of regular Afghan army and Special Forces units, said in a Twitter message he was safe.

But Massoud rejects the Taliban’s complete takeover of Panjshir and insists on continuing the fight against the Taliban.

In his new message, Massoud called for a national uprising.

Mujahid meanwhile said he had been told that Massoud and former vice president Amrullah Saleh had fled the country to neighbouring Tajikistan.

“The influential and jihadi commanders of the people of Panjshir are in coordination with us. These operations were also carried out with their help.

“Those who caused the sedition are still missing,” Mujahid said.

Before Mujahid’s press conference, Ali Maisam Nazary, head of foreign relations at NRFA, said the Taliban’s claim of victory was false and opposition forces continued to fight, Reuters reported.

“The NRF forces are present in all strategic positions across the valley to continue the fight,” he said on his Facebook page.

This comes after the NRF lost two of its commanders in fighting with the Taliban in Panjshir on Sunday.

Fahim Dashti, who was spokesperson of the NRF, and General Abdul Wudod Zara, a relative of NRF leader Ahmad Massoud, were killed in clashes with the Taliban, according to an NRF statement.

“Regretfully, the National Resistance of Afghanistan lost two compatriots in the holy resistance against oppression and aggression today. Mr. Fahim Dashti, NRF spokesperson, and General Abdul Wudod Zara were martyred. May their memory be eternal!,” read the NRF statement.

Dashti was a senior member of the Jamaat-e-Islami party and a member of the Federation of Afghan Journalists.

Meanwhile, Massoud said in a voice message shared on his Facebook page that Sunday’s attack made it clear that foreign forces had aligned with the Taliban and were still present.

“What is happening today is a small picture of the future of Afghanistan, the future that foreigners, with the help of these representatives and their mercenaries, want to establish in Afghanistan and want an Afghanistan that is backward, dark, far from any culture and Art, and unity, as well as an Afghan in economic and political isolation from the world,” Massoud said.

“Our compatriots, wherever you are, both outside and inside, call on you to start a national uprising for the dignity, freedom and pride of our homeland,” Massoud added.

Meanwhile, reports indicate the Taliban are close to announcing a new government. However, Mujahid, the Taliban’s spokesman, rejected reports of internal “disagreements”. He said however that the government might initially be a caretaker system.

“Preparations have been made for the announcement of the government, only technical work remains, we are also in a hurry. In the next few days we will witness the announcement of the government,” Mujahid said.

“The government will probably be a caretaker government for now, with room for reform, change and other fundamental steps,” he added.

On the other hand Mujahid said that the Taliban were not involved in Fahim Dashti’s death and that he was killed as a result of the NRF’s internal differences.

Mujahid also said women were back at work in the health and education sectors and “other fields will be provided, one by one, once the system has been established for them”.

“We have just emerged from the crisis, women, men and all sections of society are expected not to protest. Until a responsible and accountable authority is appointed, it is hoped to wait,” Mujahid said.

Mujahid also said that the private sector has assured them that they will move their funds from abroad.

“The good news is that all businessmen and the private sector have assured us that they will relocate all their capital from abroad and build their homeland,” Mujahid said.

Meanwhile Iran responded to the Panjshir situation and said it was “worrying”.

“The news coming from Panjshir is worrying news,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a news conference on Monday. “Last night’s attacks are strongly condemned.”

Iran’s foreign ministry added that foreign involvement in the Panjshir war should be investigated and that Iran was considering the matter.

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Turkish, US foreign ministers hold bilaterals on NATO summit sidelines

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(Last Updated On: December 1, 2021)

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his US counterpart Antony Blinken met on the sidelines of NATO summit in Latvian capital Riga on Wednesday Two foreign ministers held bilateral talks at the Atta Center, where the NATO Foreign Ministers summit was underway.

Before the meeting, Cavusoglu said Turkey is in contact with Ukraine and Russia to ease tensions, adding that sanctions on Moscow will not solve the crisis.

Ukrainian and Western officials say Moscow has massed forces on the border with Ukraine, which is battling Russia-backed separatists who control part of its territory to the east, and Kyiv on Wednesday urged NATO to prepare sanctions on Russia.

Cavusoglu and Blinken were expected to discuss latest developments in the region, including Ukraine, Libya and Afghanistan.

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Three Russian aircraft with humanitarian aid arrive in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: December 1, 2021)

Three Russian aircraft landed in Kabul on Wednesday carrying 36 tonnes of humanitarian aid, Russia’s TASS news agency reported.

All three Russian Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft, involved in delivering humanitarian aid to Afghanistan would also evacuate Russian citizens, as well as citizens of the Collective Security Treaty Organization member states, Russia’s Defense Ministry, said in a statement.

“Some three Ilyushin Il-76 strategic airlifters of the Russian Defense Ministry have delivered humanitarian aid to the Kabul airport and are boarding evacuees for departure from Afghanistan,” the statement read.

A total of over 380 Russians, citizens of the CSTO member states (mainly Kyrgyzstan), and Afghan students from Russian universities will fly out on the departing planes, the ministry said.

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India considers re-opening mission in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: December 1, 2021)

As countries slowly start reopening their embassies in Kabul, India is also reportedly considering the possibility of re-staffing its mission in Afghanistan.

So far, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Qatar, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan all have a diplomatic presence in the country.

Japan and the EU have also discussed the possibility of returning to Afghanistan.

One senior Indian official told The Hindu on Wednesday that “establishing a presence in Afghanistan has nothing to do with recognition [of the IEA government]. It simply means that you would like to have people on the ground dealing with the new regime, to continue engagement with the people.”

He said the Modi government is not convinced about the need to re-open its mission, but that discussions are continuing on what India’s strategy should be, The Hindu reported.

At present, the Indian Embassy in Kabul, which was evacuated within two days of the IEA talking control, is intact and being guarded by IEA forces.

While calls from within the country to reopen grow, officials told The Hindu that much depends on what India’s other partners and friendly countries choose to do.

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