In horrific developments, the Taliban has taken control of almost entire Afghanistan in just a week, putting the country in imminent humanitarian crisis. The last fortress, Kabul was expected to give a tough fight to the Talibani offensive. However, it too gave in without any resistance. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has fled the country and Taliban militants have taken over the presidential palace in Kabul. There is chaos across the country, Afghan people are running for their lives as civilians are being harassed, tortured and killed indiscriminately. Women and children are the most affected as there are no forces present now to protect them from Talibani brutalities. Now, the Taliban group is going to declare the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which means return of old draconian rule.
Soon after Ghani left Afghanistan, the Taliban group announced its victory. “We have reached what we were seeking, the freedom of our country and the independence of our people,” said a spokesman for the Taliban. Ghani tried to justify his decision to let the Taliban take over the power smoothly saying he did not want bloodshed and destruction of Kabul. Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the Afghan National Reconciliation Council, however slammed Ghani for leaving the country “in this difficult situation”.
There are reasonable fears that Afghanistan will witness the horrors of Talibani rule of 1996-2001. There will be harsh and inhumane punishment for violating the medieval rules formulated by the Taliban regime. Women will not be able to wear anything but burqa, will not be able to work while being subjected to barbarous punishments such as stoning, whipping and hanging. There will not freedom to pursue sports or listen to music. It has led to chaos. Afghani people as well as foreign nationals are trying to seek shelter in safe places. And airport appears to be the only option. “I had never seen such a rush at the airport before,” said Afghan businessman Farid Ahmad Younusi. He said he abandoned a contracting firm worth USD 1 million and fled Kandahar as he was on the target list of the Taliban.
Now, the streets heading to the airport in Kabul are chocked. Some are standing in front of Embassy gates. While those rushing to homes are ensuring enough supply of ration. The situation is worse in other parts of the country, where ongoing developments are not being reported in absence of the government and news media personnel. While the Taliban group has projected moderate face in Kabul, the other provinces had seen the dreadful impact in the form of killings, destruction of homes. According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 80 percent of nearly 250,0000 Afghans forced to flee since the end of May are women and children.
Foreign nationals too are scared as gunshots were heard across Kabul even near the international airport. Commercial flights have been suspended and roads going to the airport are blocked. 6 Different embassies have started evacuating their nationals. The US, the UK, Germany, Canada, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Australia, Sweden, the Netherlands, Switzerland have started evacuating their diplomatic staff in Kabul.7 The US has made an SOS effort as American helicopters have started landing in the US Embassy compound to evacuate its staff.8 It shows how grim the situation has become and nobody knows what is going to happen next.
The US decision to pull out its troops by August 31 let the morale of Afghan forces down, which helped the Taliban encash on. Moreover, the lack of political will in Kabul added to the problem. There were many angry reactions from the people of Afghanistan against Ghani’s decision not to resist the Taliban’s attack. Even acting defence minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi criticised Ghani. “They tied our hands from behind and sold the country. Curse Ghani and his gang,” he said.
Meanwhile, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai has decided to stay in Afghanistan and made an appeal for peace. “I am here in Kabul with my girls and I ask the Taliban to provide security and safety for the people,” he said in a video, in which his three daughters are seen.9 Also, the First Vice President of Afghanistan Amrullah Saleh has vowed to fight Taliban militants. “I will never, ever & under no circumstances bow to the Taliban terrorists. I will never betray the soul & legacy of my hero Ahmad Shah Masoud, the commander, the legend & the guide. I won’t disappoint millions who listened to me. I will never be under one ceiling with the Taliban. NEVER,” he said.10 However, the Taliban now is in full control of Kabul and the almost entire country. There may be negotiations over power transfer but the Taliban taking over is imminent, which means the revival of old draconian rule that curtails all basic human rights and make living condition for citizen as hell.