Politics

Taliban declares amnesty across Afghanistan, pledges to protect rights of women

The Taliban has declared an “amnesty” across Afghanistan and urged women to join the government following a day of chaos that saw citizens descend on the airport en masse in a bid to flee their rule.

Enamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission, said: “The Islamic Emirate doesn’t want women to be victims.

“They should be in government structure according to Shariah law.”

Afghanistan live updates: All the latest as the Taliban establish new government

He added: “The structure of government is not fully clear, but based on experience, there should be a fully Islamic leadership and all sides should join.”

Senior leader Amir Khan Muttaqi is said to be in Afghanistan’s capital negotiating with Kabul’s political leadership.

US Major General William Taylor said he expects more than 4,000 American soldiers to be on the ground in Afghanistan by the end of today.

He said there has been “no hostile threat or hostile interaction with the Taliban”.

After taking women broadcasters off the air for a number of days, a female television anchor on the private broadcaster Tolo interviewed a Taliban official on camera Tuesday in a studio.

Meanwhile, the Taliban fighters have been ordered to maintain discipline and not enter any diplomatic buildings or interfere with embassy vehicles.

“Taliban members have been ordered at all levels to ensure that we don’t disrespect any country’s presence in Afghanistan,” said a senior official, who declined to be identified.

However, the international community remains sceptical about these promises, and the UN secretary-general expressed particular concern about the future of women and girls in the country.

When they last ruled Afghanistan, from 1996 to 2001, women were forbidden from working and had to cover their faces and be accompanied by a male relative if they wanted to leave their homes.

Girls could not go to school.

Stonings, amputations and public executions were widely used as punishment.

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the United Nations’ high commissioner for human rights, said: “Understandably, given past history, these declarations have been greeted with some scepticism.”

On Monday, thousands of Afghans rushed into Kabul airport, with some so desperate to escape the Taliban they held on to a military jet as it took off and plunged to their deaths.

At least seven people died, US officials have said.

Weapons, vehicles, and protective gear were left abandoned at Kabul airport on Tuesday, according to an American contractor who is based in the city.

Footage shows a storeroom beside a car park at Hamid Karzai International Airport with a man heard saying “these are all just abandoned weapons, PPE, and there’s no guards at all…I could just grab an AK if I wanted one.”

The fear felt was vividly captured in a photograph taken from inside a US military flight out of Kabul, which was carrying some 640 Afghans – reportedly more than five times its suggested payload.

Forces have now secured the airport with Stefano Pontecorvo, Nato’s senior civilian representative to Afghanistan, posting a video online showing an empty runway with American troops on the tarmac.

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