As the Taliban moves closer to taking control of Kabul, the security situation in Afghanistan is rapidly changing, with civilians and embassy workers being evacuated by their respective countries. President Ashraf Ghani, National Security Adviser Hamdullah Muhib, and the head of President Fazel Mahmood Fazli’s administrative office have all left for Tajikistan, while some Lawmakers have gone to Islamabad.
Once again, there is doubt over the country’s future leadership, signifying the conclusion of a 20-year Western experiment intended at reconstructing Afghanistan.
While sources claim that a delegation of Taliban and Afghan leaders would travel to Qatar to discuss power transfers and who will take over as supreme commander, suspicions abound that Taliban political bureau chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar will be named President.
Who is Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar?
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was born and nurtured in Kandahar, the Taliban’s birthplace. Baradar’s life, like that of other Afghans, was forever changed by the Soviet invasion of the nation in the late 1970s, which turned him into an insurgent. He was said to have battled alongside Mullah Omar, the one-eyed preacher.
In the early 1990s, amid the turmoil and corruption of the civil war that ensued after the Soviet withdrawal, the two would create the Taliban movement.
Following the Taliban’s defeat in 2001, Baradar is thought to have been one of a small group of insurgents who approached interim Afghan President Hamid Karzai with a letter proposing a possible compromise in which the militants would recognise the new government.
Baradar was arrested in Pakistan in 2010 and held in captivity until he was released and transported to Qatar in 2018 as a result of US pressure.
He was appointed chief of the Taliban’s political office here, where he oversaw the signing of the US withdrawal deal.
Afghanistan situation right now
As the Taliban move on Kabul, Afghan media quoted acting defence minister Bismillah Mohammadi as claiming that President Ghani, who has fled the country, has given political leaders the ability to resolve the country’s “crisis.” According to Mohammadi, a group would travel to Doha on Monday to discuss the situation in the country.
The chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, appeared to criticise Ghani for leaving the country, saying, “God will hold him accountable, and the nation will judge.”
Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai announced the formation of a coordination council consisting of himself, Abdullah Abdullah, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar to oversee the transfer of power after President Ghani’s departure.
The Afghan Presidential Palace declared earlier in the day on Twitter that the situation in Kabul was under control and that it had not been assaulted, despite reports of occasional gunshots.
It stated that Afghan security forces were collaborating with international partners to secure Kabul’s safety.
“Kabul has not been attacked. The country’s security and defence forces are working together with international partners to ensure the security of the city and the situation is under control,” the statement in Pashto said.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the Taliban offensive and the impending surrender of Kabul “heart-wrenching stuff.”
“We went to Afghanistan 20 years ago with one mission, and that mission was to deal with the folks who attacked us on 9/11. And we have succeeded in that mission,” Blinken told CNN’s “State of the Union” programme.
“The objective that we set, bringing those who attacked us to justice, making sure that they couldn’t attack us again from Afghanistan – we’ve succeeded in that mission, and in fact, we succeeded a while ago,” he said.
“And at the same time, remaining in Afghanistan for another one, five, ten years is not in the national interest,” he added.
Since the United States began withdrawing its soldiers from Afghanistan on May 1, the Taliban have made quick progress across the country by resorting to widespread bloodshed.