Afghans face an impossible race against time to flee Kabul

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Kabul, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – August 22, 2021): Tens of thousands of Afghans rushed to flee their country on Sunday as the United States warned of security threats at the chaotic Kabul airport and that the European Union has declared it “impossible” to evacuate all those at risk from the Taliban.

In the week following the return to power by extremist militants in Afghanistan, the Taliban promised a milder version of their brutal regime from 1996 to 2001 and took steps to form a government.

But terrified Afghans continue to try to flee, compounding a tragedy at Kabul airport where the United States and its allies have been unable to cope with the large numbers trying to board evacuation flights.

A reporter, who was among a group of other media professionals and academics lucky enough to make it to the airport on Sunday for an evacuation flight, described desperate scenes of people surrounding their bus at the Entrance.

“They were showing us their passports and shouting ‘take us with you … please take us with you’,” the journalist told AFP.

“The Taliban fighter in the truck in front of us had to shoot in the air to make them leave.” Britain’s Sky News on Saturday broadcast images of at least three bodies covered with a white tarp outside the airport. We didn’t know how they died.

Sky reporter Stuart Ramsay, who was at the airport, called the deaths “inevitable” and said people were “crushed” while others were “dehydrated and terrified”.

The footage was the last image of absolute desperation, after video of a baby being lifted over a wall at the airport and horror scenes of people hanging from departing planes.

– “Impossible” deadline – The United States, which has thousands of troops trying to secure the airport, has set a deadline to complete evacuations by August 31.

But there are as many as 15,000 Americans and 50,000 to 60,000 Afghan allies who must be evacuated, according to the Biden administration.

There are countless others who fear repression under the Taliban and are also trying to flee.

US President Joe Biden described the evacuation operations as “one of the most important and difficult airlifts in history”.

The situation was further complicated on Saturday when the US government warned its citizens to stay away from the airport due to “security threats”.

No specific reason was given, but a White House official later said Biden had been briefed on “counterterrorism” threats, including the Islamic State group.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell gave a grim assessment of the success of airlifts.

“They want to evacuate 60,000 people by the end of the month. It is mathematically impossible,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told AFP.

Borrell added that “we have complained” to the Americans that their airport security was too tight and hampered attempts by Afghans who were working for European entry.

On Saturday, the Pentagon said 17,000 people had been withdrawn since the operation began on August 14, including 2,500 Americans.

Thousands more left on other foreign military flights.

– Taliban government – The Taliban have publicly contented themselves with allowing the US military to oversee the airlift, while focusing on how they will run the country once foreign forces leave.

Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar flew to Kabul and planned to meet with jihadist leaders, elders and politicians in the coming days, an official told AFP.

Among them are leaders of the Haqqani Network, a terrorist organization nominated by the United States with $ 1 million bounties on its leadership.

– Resistance – The Taliban stunned the world when they invaded Kabul last week, ending two decades of war with virtually no opposition from government forces that had been trained and equipped by the US-led alliance .

However, there have since been glimmers of resistance, with ex-government troops rallying in the Panjshir Valley, a mountainous area north of Kabul long known as the anti-Taliban stronghold.

One of the leaders of the National Resistance Front is the son of the famous anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud.

The NRF is ready for a “long-term conflict” but is also still seeking to negotiate an inclusive government with the Taliban, its spokesperson told AFP in an interview.

“The conditions for a peace agreement with the Taliban are decentralization, a system that guarantees social justice, equality, rights and freedom for all,” said Ali Maisam Nazary.


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