Crowds seeking to flee Afghanistan gathered at the borders as long lines formed at banks on Wednesday, creating an administrative vacuum after the Taliban takeover, leaving foreign donors unsure how to respond to an impending humanitarian crisis.
The Islamist militia focused on running banks, hospitals and government machinery after the final withdrawal of US troops on Monday ended a massive airlift of Afghans who had helped western countries during the 20-year war.
With Kabul’s airport inoperable, private efforts to help Afghans fearing retaliation from the Taliban are focusing on arranging safe passage across landlocked land borders with Iran, Pakistan and Central Asian states.
At Torkham, a major border crossing with Pakistan just east of the Khyber Pass, a Pakistani official said: “A large number of people are waiting on the Afghanistan side for the gate to open.”
Thousands of people also flocked to the Islam Qala border post between Afghanistan and Iran, witnesses said.
“I felt that being part of the Iranian security forces brought some kind of relaxation for the Afghans when they entered Iran, compared to the past,” said one Afghan who was part of a group of eight who entered Iran.
More than 123,000 people were evacuated from Kabul in the US-led airlift after the Taliban took the city in mid-August, but tens of thousands of endangered Afghans were left behind.
Germany alone estimates that between 10,000 and 40,000 Afghan employees who still work for development organizations in Afghanistan have the right to be evacuated to Germany if they feel threatened.
In a resolution Monday, the UN Security Council urged the Taliban to allow safe passage for those seeking to leave Afghanistan, but it made no mention of the creation of a safe zone, a move taken by France and others are supported.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the Taliban are in talks with Qatar and Turkey over the management of the capital’s airport.
The Taliban have announced an amnesty for all Afghans who collaborated with foreign forces during the war that ousted them from power in 2001 for refusing to extradite al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the September 11 attacks on the United States. States.
Taliban leaders have also called on Afghans to return home and help rebuild, while pledging to protect human rights, in an apparent effort to show a more temperate face than their first regime, known for his brutal enforcement of radical Islamic law.
The militia made similar promises when they took power in 1996, only to publicly hang a former president, ban women from education and work, impose strict dress codes and take punitive stance against the people of Kabul. .
A woman said she saw Taliban fighters beating women with sticks at a bank in the Afghan capital on Tuesday.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen something like this and it really scared me,” the 22-year-old said on condition of anonymity, fearing for her safety.
No new government yet
The Taliban have yet to appoint a new government or reveal how they intend to rule, unlike in 1996, when the insurgents formed a leadership council within hours of taking the capital.
The foreign minister of neighboring Pakistan, which has close ties to the Taliban, said on Tuesday that he expected Afghanistan to have a new “consensus government” within days.
Lacking a government in Kabul, Britain and India held separate talks with Taliban representatives in Doha, fearing that up to half a million Afghans could flee their homelands by the end of the year.
Washington said it would use its massive leverage, including access to global markets, over the Taliban to get the remaining Americans and allies out of Afghanistan after the US military withdrew.
Last week, the United States issued a permit authorizing them and their partners to continue providing humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, even though the Taliban is on Washington’s blacklist, a Treasury Department official told Reuters.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby also said the United States was aware of the threat posed by ISIS-K, the Afghanistan-based Islamic State that claimed responsibility for last week’s suicide bombing outside the Kabul airport that killed 13 Americans. soldiers and dozens of Afghan civilians were killed.
ISIS-K is an enemy of the West and the Taliban, who also faces armed resistance from opposition groups, including remnants of the Afghan army. At least seven Taliban fighters were killed Monday evening in clashes with anti-Taliban rebels in the Panjshir valley north of the capital, two rebels said.
The United States is not ruling out military strikes against ISIS in Afghanistan, but President Joe Biden said on Tuesday the days of nation-building through military force were over.
Biden portrayed the chaotic exit as a logistical success that would have been just as messy even had it launched weeks earlier, while staying on would require more US troops.
“This decision on Afghanistan is not just about Afghanistan,” he said. “It’s about ending an era of major military operations to recreate other countries.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)