KABUL (Reuters) -Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers struggled to keep the country functioning after the final withdrawal of US forces, with foreign donors alarmed about an impending humanitarian crisis.
Two weeks since the Taliban’s sweep into Kabul brought a chaotic end to 20 years of warfare, the Islamist militants have yet to name a new government or reveal how they intend to rule.
Qatar’s Al Jazeera television reported that Qatari technical experts had arrived at the Taliban’s request to discuss resuming operations at Kabul airport, currently inoperable. The foreign minister of neighbouring Pakistan, which has close ties to the Taliban, said he expected Afghanistan to have a new “consensus government” within days.
In Washington, where the end of America’s longest war has sparked the biggest crisis of President Joe Biden’s administration, Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland said the United States is looking at all possible options and routes to continue to help Americans and legal permanent residents leave Afghanistan.
Washington would keep having conversations with the Taliban that serve US interests, she told reporters, adding the United States would look at how it could give aid to Afghanistan without benefiting any government that it forms. People fearful of life under Taliban rule rushed to the borders.
In Panjshir province, members of local militias and remnants of former military units were still holding out under the leadership of Ahmad Massoud. Senior Taliban leader Amir Khan Motaqi called on them to put down weapons and negotiate. “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is home for all Afghans,” he said in a speech.
The Taliban has declared an amnesty for all Afghans who worked with foreign forces during the war that started when they were ousted from power in 2001 over their refusal to hand over al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Taliban leaders have called on Afghans to return home and help rebuild. They have promised to protect human rights in an effort to present a more moderate face than their first government, which enforced a strict version of sharia law, including banning women from education and employment.