(CNN) – Thousands of desperate Afghans were still trapped under the Taliban regime in Kabul on Tuesday, as the US and its allies, frantically evacuating their staff from the city’s airport, faced the sudden breakdown of their two-decade effort in Afghanistan.
The situation at Hamid Karzai International Airport is “stabilizing”, the UK Foreign Minister said on Tuesday, a day after crowds of locals took to the runway and clung to military planes in search of a out of town.
Western countries continued to hasten the pace to remove its citizens from the place, with hundreds of evacuations scheduled for Tuesday. US President Joe Biden, facing intense scrutiny over his handling of the withdrawal of US forces, has ordered an additional 6,000 troops to be dispatched to the airport to aid US efforts there.
But many Afghans have to wait for news of whether they will be offered a way out, as the country’s immediate neighbors, and nations more distant, prepare for a possible humanitarian and refugee crisis.
Taliban co-founder and deputy chief Mullah Baradar has arrived in Afghanistan, a spokesman for the Taliban political bureau reported Tuesday. It is the first time that Baradar has set foot in the country in 20 years, and it comes 11 years after he was detained in neighboring Pakistan by the country’s security forces.
Baradar was a prominent member of the Taliban regime when he was last in power, and his return will fuel concerns that the nature of the new government reflects that era.
Across Afghanistan, people wait to know under what type of regime will they live, and whether those who supported the US-backed government for the past 20 years will face retaliation from the Taliban.
Through televised briefings, statements and press conferences, Taliban officials assured Tuesday that retaliation was not planned.
His spokesman said the Taliban would grant a “general amnesty” for everyone in Afghanistan, including members of the Afghan army and interpreters.
“We do not want Afghanistan to be a battlefield,” Zabihullah Mujahid told a news conference in Kabul on Tuesday. “Today the fighting is over ….. Those who were against the opposition have received a general amnesty. The fighting must not be repeated.”
“The families who are at the airport right now with fear should return … I assure you that in their lives no one will ask them what they have done and what they have not done,” he added.
The group’s deputy leader, Maulvi Mohammad Yaqub, also told the fighters that they should not “enter people’s houses or impound their cars,” in an audio message widely distributed through Taliban channels.
But these promises have been met with skepticism by the international community, and cases of intimidation have already begun.
Prominent women fear retaliation
Spokesperson Mujahid framed the Taliban’s takeover as a victory over imperialism during the press conference, telling Afghans: “After 20 years of fighting to clear the occupation, it is our right and we are honored to have achieved it. “.
He added that “the thoughts, ideology and beliefs” of the Taliban had not changed since the 1990s, but there were some differences in maturity, experience and vision.
She insisted that “there will be no violence against women” in Afghanistan, but said the international community must respect the “core values” of the Taliban.
Pressed on whether women could go to work, he said that women’s rights would be determined under the Sharia. “In all sectors of society, where they are required, it will be within this framework,” he said.
However, these televised pronouncements are not enough, Afghan politician and women’s rights activist Fawzia Koofi told CNN.
The Taliban “have issued press releases stating that they will not harm people, especially women,” but in practice their behavior has been different, “so it is very difficult to predict what will happen,” he said. Koofi.
He explained that he has heard of Taliban fighters in other provinces who do not allow women to leave the house if they do not wear the burqa or do not have a male escort.
She stated that the Taliban must actively spread the message of their new leadership when it comes to women.
“They have to show it in the provinces of Afghanistan, they have to give examples,” he said. “It is easy to make statements, but people have to see it in practice. The education of women is important, but their political participation is just as important.”
Despite these biased assurances and the group’s first approaches to the international media, the homes of two female journalists were visited by members of the Taliban on Sunday, a contact of the women told CNN, adding that both women remained. very affected by the incidents.
According to the source, one of the journalists whose home was visited by the combatants said: “I am very concerned for my safety and that of my family.”
Several journalists have received threatening calls from the Taliban, which have increased in recent days, the source added.
A prominent Kabul journalist said she received a threatening call from the Taliban, saying that they “will be coming soon.”
Following the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul, CNN spoke with Taliban fighters on Monday. One of them said that women journalists could continue to practice their profession as long as they adhered to a set of rules. Journalists are expected to wear the niqab and not associate with men outside their family, he said.
Since the Taliban takeover on Sunday, there are fewer women on the streets of Kabul.
Although tension reigns in the Afghan capital, especially among women, some have continued to work publicly in the early days of Taliban rule. On Tuesday, Saad Mohseni, director of Moby Media Group, tweeted an image of the “brave female journalists who went out to Kabul this morning.”
The United States seeks to contain the consequences
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Tuesday urged the Taliban to keep their promises. “They have pledged to be inclusive. They have said that women can work and girls can go to school. These promises must be kept, and for the moment, again understandably, given past history, these statements have been met with some skepticism, “Rupert Colville said in a statement.
A Photo The scene of men, women and children crammed into the hold of a C-17 plane went viral this week, giving the world an inside look at the desperation and panic of Afghan civilians trying to flee their country.
The crew of that C-17 plane, with 640 people on board, made the decision to “go out” in an unstable situation at Kabul International Airport on Sunday night, a defense official told CNN.
The unusually high number of passengers on board the C-17 was the result of “a dynamic security environment that required rapid decision-making by the crew, which ultimately ensured that these passengers were safely taken out of the ship. country, “the United States Central Command said in a statement on Monday.
The number of people on board was more than double that expected on each flight. However, the US has not yet been able to reach its daily capacity to move 5,000 people a day. At a press conference on Tuesday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan acknowledged that many flights are still not full as evacuation efforts intensify.
Many of those seeking an exit from Afghanistan are meanwhile waiting for news on when and how nations will grant asylum.
The European Union’s foreign ministers met urgently on Tuesday to discuss the situation in the country. Following the meeting, EU Foreign Affairs Officer Josep Borrell said that cooperation between the bloc and any future Afghan government will depend on the protection of the fundamental rights of all Afghans and a “peaceful and inclusive” political agreement. .
Borrell stressed that the EU will make “every possible effort” to ensure the safety of Afghans who have worked with the EU.
“We cannot abandon them. We will do, we are doing, everything possible to bring them and offer them refuge in the Member States of the European Union,” said Borrell.
Meanwhile, the Spanish government has expressed its intention to temporarily host evacuated Afghans who have worked for the EU.
But Europe is on alert for an imminent refugee emergency. In a speech delivered Monday night, German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged the international community to increase aid to Afghanistan’s neighboring countries to prevent Afghan asylum seekers from continuing to travel to Europe.
In many of the world’s capitals, the blame game has already begun, with leaders wondering how a two-decade war, the longest the United States has ever fought, could be undone so suddenly.
“No one saw this coming. Of course we would have acted if we had,” UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab told Sky News on Tuesday.
President Joe Biden took an unapologetic tone in a speech in Washington Monday, admitting that the speed of the Taliban’s resurgence took his administration by surprise, but putting much of the blame on Afghan forces, on the former government of Afghanistan and his predecessor Donald Trump.
But Biden himself has faced strong criticism at home and abroad, and it remains to be seen whether his argument will be accepted by America’s allies.
“Yes, our competition is being questioned,” a senior White House official admitted to CNN on Tuesday, as the administration tried to contain the consequences of his chaotic departure. “The only way to fix that is to stabilize the airport and safely remove the Americans and our partners in the best possible way.”
CNN’s Sarah Dean, Vasco Cotovio, Claudia Otto, Hannah Ritchie, Tara John, Oren Liebermann, Claudia Rebaza and Jeff Zeleny contributed to this report.
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