KABUL: Taliban forces have taken full control of Afghanistan, including the Panjshir valley where opposition forces had been holding out, three Taliban sources said on Friday as heavy celebratory gunfire was heard in the Afghan capital Kabul.
“By the grace of Allah Almighty, we are in control of the entire Afghanistan. The troublemakers have been defeated and Panjshir is now under our command,” said one Taliban commander.
It was not immediately possible to confirm the reports.
Former vice president Amrullah Saleh, one of the leaders of the opposition forces told Tolo News television station that reports he had fled the country were lies.
Meanwhile, the Taliban are due to form a government within days despite fighting in Panjshir Valley.
The Taliban face the enormous challenge of shifting gears from insurgent group to governing power, days after the United States fully withdrew its troops and ended two decades of war.
While the West has adopted a wait-and-see approach to the group, there were some signs of engagement with the new leaders gathering pace.
China confirmed a tweet from a Taliban spokesman hours earlier, indicating that Beijing will keep its embassy in Kabul open.
“We hope the Taliban will establish an open and inclusive political structure, pursue moderate and stable domestic and foreign policy and make a clean break with all terrorist groups,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.
The United Nations said it had restarted humanitarian flights to parts of the country, linking the Pakistani capital with Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan and Kandahar in the south.
The country’s flag carrier Ariana Afghan Airlines resumed domestic flights on Friday, while the United Arab Emirates sent a plane carrying “urgent medical and food aid”.
Western Union and Moneygram, meanwhile, said they were restarting money transfers, which many Afghans rely on from relatives abroad to survive, and Qatar said it was working to reopen the airport in Kabul — a lifeline for aid.
In Kranj, EU countries on Friday laid out conditions for stepping up engagement with the Taliban, agreeing to establish a joint Kabul civilian presence to help departures if security allows.
“We have to engage with the new government in Afghanistan, which doesn’t mean recognition, it’s an operational engagement,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said after a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers in Slovenia.
“This operational engagement will increase depending on the behaviour of this government,” he said.
Borrell laid out a raft of “benchmarks” that the new authorities would have to meet as the Taliban gears up to announce a new government after seizing power.
Meanwhile, Doha’s special envoy to Afghanistan told the Al Jazeera broadcaster on Friday that Qatar hopes to see the establishment of humanitarian aid corridors at Afghan airports within 48 hours.
Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2021