The Taliban have pledged not to seek “revenge” against their opponents in Afghanistan in their first press conference since taking power, as the United States said they would hold the terrorists to their promises to respect human rights.
The Taliban announcements came Tuesday after the return to Afghanistan of their co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, crowning the group’s astonishing comeback after being ousted in a US-led invasion nearly 20 years ago.
In the capital Kabul, some shops opened and the terrorists told government staff to return to work — though residents reacted cautiously and few women took to the streets.
Tens of thousands of people have tried to flee the country to escape the hardline Islamist rule expected under the Taliban, or fearing direct retribution for siding with the Western-backed government in power for the past two decades.
But Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters the new regime would be “positively different” from their 1996-2001 stint at the helm, infamous for deaths by stoning and barring women from working in contact with men.
Here are the LIVE Updates on Afghanistan-Taliban crisis:
It has been sleepless nights and desperate efforts to contact their families back home for the thousands of Afghan students in educational institutions in various parts of India as they worry about the fate of their kin and country under the Taliban.
Many have also appealed to the Indian government to help their compatriots, who had gone back home due to the COVID-19-induced closure of educational institutions, to return to India and to extend their visas.
The U.S. Air Force said on Tuesday that it was investigating the circumstances surrounding human remains that were found in the wheel well of one of its C-17s that flew out of Kabul amid the chaos of the Taliban taking over the city.
In a statement, the Air Force said that the aircraft landed at Kabul’s airport on Monday and was surrounded by hundreds of Afghan civilians.
“Faced with a rapidly deteriorating security situation around the aircraft, the C-17 crew decided to depart the airfield as quickly as possible,” the statement said.
Britain on Tuesday announced a resettlement scheme for Afghans fleeing the Taliban after their return to power, offering an initial 5,000 places in the first year, rising to up to 20,000 in the long term.
The announcement came on the eve of an extraordinary session of parliament on Wednesday, where MPs recalled from holiday will discuss the collapse of the Afghan government, so soon after the withdrawal of Western forces.
Some 900 British troops have been sent back to the Afghan capital to help repatriate thousands of UK nationals, including embassy staff, following the Islamists’ return.
London said priority would be given to those most at risk, including Afghan women, children and others forced to flee or facing threats and persecution from the hardliners, offering them a chance to remain in Britain indefinitely.
“This resettlement scheme will be kept under further review for future years, with up to a total of 20,000 in the long term,” the Home Office said in a statement.