Editorial: Taliban times

The Taliban triumphantly marched into Kabul’s international airport on Tuesday, hours after the final US troop withdrawal that ended America’s longest war. Standing on the tarmac, Taliban leaders pledged to secure the country, quickly reopen the airport and grant amnesty to former opponents.

In a show of control, turbaned Taliban leaders were flanked by the insurgents’ elite Badri unit as they walked across the tarmac. The commandos in camouflage uniforms proudly posed for photos. Getting the airport running again is just one of the sizeable challenges the Taliban face in governing a nation of 38 million people that for two decades had survived on billions of dollars in foreign aid.

Afghanistan is finally free, Hekmatullah Wasiq, a top Taliban official, told The Associated Press on the tarmac. The military and civilian side (of the airport) are with us and in control. Hopefully, we will be announcing our Cabinet. Everything is peaceful. Everything is safe. Wasiq also urged people to return to work and reiterated the Taliban pledge offering a general amnesty. People have to be patient, he said. Slowly we will get everything back to normal. It will take time. Meanwhile, the Taliban will have to earn international legitimacy and support by meeting their commitments on freedom of travel, counterterrorism, respecting the basic rights of the Afghan people, including women and minorities, and forming an inclusive government, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said.

Blinkin said the US will engage with the Taliban not on the basis of what a Taliban-led government says, but what it does to live up to its commitments. The Taliban seek international legitimacy and support. Our message is: any legitimacy and any support will have to be earned, Blinken said in an address to the nation hours after the US concluded its mission to Afghanistan early Tuesday.

On the other hand, never in history has a withdrawal from war been handled so badly or incompetently as by Americans from Afghanistan, former president Donald Trump has said as the United States flew its last military flight out of Kabul bringing back all of its armed forces from the country.

In addition to the obvious, all equipment should be demanded to be immediately returned to the United States, and that includes every penny of the USD 85 billion dollars in cost, Trump said. If it is not handed back, we should either go in with unequivocal military force and get it, or at least bomb the hell out of it. Nobody ever thought such stupidity, as this feeble-brained withdrawal, was possible, he said.

Trump’s successor President Joe Biden had retained Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad to carry out the last mile negotiations with the Taliban. The Biden administration was more focused on hitting an arbitrary targeted date rather than hitting the conditions that will permit the execution of the mission that delivers on behalf of America, alleged former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.


NT Bureau