06 Sep 2021, 10:43

Afghan resistance calls for ceasefire as Taliban tighten control

KABUL, Sept 6, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - The last anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan
have acknowledged suffering major battlefield losses and called for a
ceasefire, as the top US diplomat flew to Qatar to try and handle the chaotic
aftermath of the American withdrawal.

   Following their lightning-fast rout of Afghanistan's army last month --
and celebrations Monday when the last US troops flew out after 20 years of
war -- the Taliban are seeking to crush the forces defending the mountainous
Panjshir Valley.

   The National Resistance Front (NRF) proposed in a statement "that the
Taliban stop its military operations in Panjshir... and withdraw its forces.

   "In return, we will direct our forces to refrain from military action."

   The NRF includes local fighters loyal to Ahmad Massoud -- the son of the
famous anti-Soviet and anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud -- as well
as remnants of the Afghan military that retreated to the Panjshir Valley.

   The group said separately in a tweet Sunday that spokesman Fahim Dashty --
a well-known Afghan journalist -- and General Abdul Wudod Zara had been
killed in the latest fighting.

   The NRF has vowed to fight the Taliban but also said it was willing to
negotiate with the Islamists. But initial contact did not lead to a

   The Panjshir Valley is famed for being the site of resistance to Soviet
forces in the 1980s and the Taliban in the late 1990s, but observers have
said the NRF is struggling.

   Bill Roggio, managing editor of the US-based Long War Journal, said Sunday
that while there was still a "fog of war" -- with unconfirmed reports the
Taliban had captured multiple districts -- "it looks bad".

   Former vice-president Amrullah Saleh -- who is holed out in Panjshir
alongside Ahmad Massoud -- has warned of a humanitarian crisis, with
thousands "displaced by the Taliban onslaught".

   - Taliban government -

   The Taliban are yet to finalise their new regime after rolling into Kabul
three weeks ago at a speed that analysts say likely surprised even the
hardline Islamists themselves.

   Afghanistan's new rulers have pledged to be more "inclusive" than during
their first stint in power, which also came after years of conflict -- first
the Soviet invasion of 1979, and then a bloody civil war.

   They have promised a government that represents Afghanistan's complex
ethnic makeup -- though women are unlikely to be included at the top levels.

   Women's freedoms in Afghanistan were sharply curtailed under the Taliban's
1996-2001 rule. This time, women will be allowed to attend university as long
as classes are segregated by sex or at least divided by a curtain, the
Taliban's education authority said in a lengthy document issued on Sunday.

   But female students must also wear an abaya (robe) and niqab (face-veil),
as opposed to the even more conservative burqa mandatory under the previous
Taliban regime.


   As the Taliban come to grips with their transition from insurgency to
government they are facing a host of challenges, including humanitarian needs
for which international assistance is critical.

   UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths has arrived in Kabul for several
days of meetings with the Taliban leadership, which has promised to help.

   "The authorities pledged that the safety and security of humanitarian
staff, and humanitarian access to people in need, will be guaranteed and that
humanitarian workers -- both men and women -- will be guaranteed freedom of
movement," a statement from UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

   The Taliban spokesman tweeted that the group's delegation assured the UN
of cooperation.

   - Blinken trip to Qatar, Germany -

   The international community is coming to terms with the new Taliban regime
with a flurry of diplomacy.

   US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was due Monday in Qatar, a key player
in the Afghan saga, though he is not expected to meet with the militants.

   Qatar, a major US military base, has been the gateway for 55,000 people
airlifted out of Afghanistan, nearly half the total evacuated by US-led
forces after the Taliban takeover.

   He will also speak to the Qataris about efforts alongside Turkey to reopen
Kabul's airport, which is necessary for flying in badly needed humanitarian
aid and evacuating remaining Afghans.

   Blinken will then head Wednesday to the US air base in Ramstein, Germany,
a temporary home for thousands of Afghans moving to the United States, from
which he will hold a virtual 20-nation ministerial meeting on the crisis
alongside German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

   German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday called for dialogue with the

   "We simply have to talk to the Taliban about how we can get people who
have worked for Germany out of the country and bring them to safety," she
told reporters.


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