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“Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”: Taliban consult with Karazai

KABUL: The governing Taliban have announced the name of the country as “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”. Afghanistan may be governed by a ruling council while the movement’s supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, would likely remain in overall charge.

Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid on Thursday announced the creation of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in a tweet. “[This is the] declaration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan on the occasion of the 102nd anniversary of the country’s (Afghanistan’s) independence from British rule,” he tweeted in Pashto on Thursday.

Afghan leader Mullah Baradar

The Taliban would also reach out to former pilots and soldiers from the Afghan armed forces to join its ranks, Waheedullah Hashimi, who has access to the group’s decision-making, added in an interview.

How successful that recruitment is remains to be seen. Thousands of soldiers have been killed by Taliban members over the last 20 years, and recently the group targeted US-trained Afghan pilots because of their pivotal role.

The power structure that Hashimi outlined would bear similarities to how Afghanistan was run the last time the Taliban were in power from 1996 to 2001. Then, supreme leader Mullah Omar remained in the shadows and left the day-to-day running of the country to a council.

Akhundzada would likely play a role above the head of the council, who would be akin to the country’s president, Hashimi added.

“Maybe his (Akhundzada’s) deputy will play the role of ‘president’,” Hashimi said, speaking in English.

The Taliban’s supreme leader has three deputies: Mullah Yaqoob, son of Mullah Omar, Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the powerful Haqqani network, and Abdul Ghani Baradar, who heads the Taliban’s political office in Doha and is one of the founding members of the group.

Many issues regarding how the Taliban would run Afghanistan have yet to be finalised, Hashimi explained, but Afghanistan would not be a democracy.

“There will be no democratic system at all because it does not have any base in our country,” he said. “We will not discuss what type of political system should we apply in Afghanistan because it is clear. It is Sharia law and that is it.”

Hashimi said he would be joining a meeting of the Taliban leadership that would discuss issues of governance later this week.

Taliban leaders consults with Hamid Karzai

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with Anas Haqqani, a key member of the Taliban, on Wednesday, as top Taliban leaders arrived in Afghanistan to begin crucial talks for the formation of a new government.
The Haqqani Network, which was branded a terrorist group by the US in 2012, is an important faction of the Taliban who captured the Afghan capital, Kabul, in a stunning takeover on Sunday, returning to power nearly 20 years after being toppled in a US-led invasion.
As the Taliban encircled Kabul, President Ashraf Ghani flew out of the country and later posted on Facebook that he left to avoid bloodshed in the capital, without saying where he had gone.
Since then, an Afghan government council comprising Karzai, Gulbudin Hekmatyar, leader of the Hizb-e-Islami political and paramilitary group, and Abdullah Abdullah, the old administration’s main peace envoy, have been seeking to draw out a future roadmap for Afghanistan.
The Taliban delegation led by Baradar, head of the group’s political office in Qatar, arrived in Afghanistan on Tuesday evening, onboard a Qatari military plane that landed in southern Kandahar province, the group’s stronghold.
During an overnight press conference in Kandahar, Mullah Khairullah Khairkhaw, a member of the Taliban team, said that the delegation “will hold consultations and discussions with local and other leaders about the formation of an inclusive government.”
Meanwhile, Mohammad Yusof Saha, a spokesman for Karzai, told the Associated Press that preliminary meetings with the Taliban team would facilitate talks with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s top political leader.

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, center left, and senior Haqqani group leader Anas Haqqani, center right, meet in Kabul on Wednesday.

Pakistan ambassador arrives in Kabul

Pakistan on Wednesday sent back its ambassador to Kabul, days after the Afghan Taliban took over control of the country’s capital.

Ambassador Mansoor Ahmad Khan returned to Kabul by road via the Torkham border today, a key crossing point between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told reporters in Islamabad.

Khan returned to Islamabad on July 19, a day after the former Afghan government called back its ambassador and senior diplomats after the alleged kidnapping of the Afghan envoy’s daughter in Islamabad.

Waheedullah Hashimi (C), a senior Taliban commander, gestures as he speaks with Reuters during an interview at an undisclosed location near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border on August 17.

“Situation along with our borders is normal, even our ambassador today went back to Kabul by road via Torkham,” Sheikh Rashid said while referring to some foreign media reports of tense situation at the Torkham border after the Taliban took over control of the Nangarhar province.

There is now peace in Afghanistan and over 800 trucks crossed via our borders to Afghanistan, he added.

Sheikh Rashid’s press conference

Minister for Interior Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said that Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan arrived back in Kabul Wednesday, days after the Taliban took over control of the capital city.

Mansoor Ahmad Khan returned to Kabul by road via the Torkham border, a key crossing point between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Rasheed told reporters in Islamabad.

Khan returned to Islamabad on July 19, a day after the government of former president Ashraf Ghani called back its mission following the purported kidnapping of the daughter of Afghanistan ambassador in Islamabad.

Taliban spokesman Mohammad Suhail Shaheen

“Situation along with our borders is normal, even our ambassador today went back to Kabul by road via Torkham,” Ahmed said while referring to some foreign media reports of tense situation at the Torkham border after the Taliban took over control of the Nangarhar province.

There is now peace in Afghanistan and over 800 trucks crossed via our borders to Afghanistan, he added.

Sharing details of Pakistan’s efforts to facilitate the evacuation of personnel and staff of diplomatic missions, international organisations, media, and others from Afghanistan, the minister said so far 900 diplomats, foreign nationals, and 613 Pakistan nationals have arrived in the country.

Responding to a question to recognise the Taliban government in Kabul, Ahmed said this decision will be made by Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Foreign Ministry.

He also welcomed the Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid’s statement to not allow his country’s soil to be used against neighbours and any other country. “Pakistan will also not allow anyone to use its soil against Afghanistan,” Ahmed said.

Afghan embassy wants Interpol detention of Ashraf Ghani

The Afghan embassy in Tajikistan demands Interpol to detain former President Ashraf Ghani, who fled his country “by embezzling $169 million from the state treasury.”

Muhammed Zahir Agbar, Afghanistan’s envoy to Dushanbe, in a news conference in Dushanbe, described the flee of Ghani as a “betrayal of the state and the nation.” Agbar said he recognizes Amrullah Saleh, the vice president in Ghani’s government, as the legitimate head of the Afghan state.

He went on to say that according to the country’s constitution, in the absence, escape, or death of the president, the first vice president, becomes an official acting president.

The ambassador also underlined that the negotiations of the relevant parties for the establishment of a comprehensive government are continuing in Doha and the Afghan people are waiting for the outcome of these talks.

Agbar expressed his hope that the international community will help to establish peace and inclusive government in Afghanistan.

At the end of the meeting, in the presence of press members, Agbar instructed the embassy staff to remove the photo of Ghani and replace it with the picture of Saleh.