Taliban declares ‘amnesty’ in Afghanistan and urges women to join government

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.”

However, the international community remains sceptical about these promises of modernisation, with the UN secretary-general expressing 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.

The details of the government’s structure remain vague, as senior Taliban leader Amir Khan Muttaqi is said to be in Afghanistan’s capital negotiating with Kabul’s political leadership.

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.

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.

US President Joe Biden remained resolute about his decision to withdraw US troops, a decision he said he stood “squarely behind” as he acknowledged the “gut-wrenching” images unfolding in Kabul.

Mr Biden said he faced a choice between honouring a previously negotiated withdrawal agreement or sending thousands more troops back to begin a third decade of war.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has admitted the UK would never “ordinarily” engage with the Taliban as they “don’t share our standards of human rights”.

But with the takeover of Afghanistan, he says leaders will have to be “pragmatic” and continue to engage with the group through third parties.

Germany’s Angela Merkel has vowed to support neighbouring countries, such as Pakistan, in helping refugees.

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Meanwhile, President Emmanuel Macron has promised he will not abandon Afghans who worked for his country, but said that France, along with Germany and other European countries, would work swiftly to develop a “robust response” to another major concern for many countries: a flux of irregular migration by Afghans.

“Europe cannot alone assume the consequences of the current situation,” he said.

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