President Ashraf Ghani flees Afghanistan, Taliban seize Presidential Palace

Eyewitnesses said the Taliban met little resistance in their race to the Presidential Palace, just as there was hardly any challenge as they captured provincial capitals in the last few days. 

Published: 16th August 2021 07:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th August 2021 10:02 AM   |  A+A-


Taliban fighters take control of Afghan presidential palace after the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. (Photo | AP)

By Express News Service

In its lightning sweep of the country, Taliban not just entered capital Kabul on Sunday but also reportedly seized the Presidential Palace hours after President Ashraf Ghani and his deputy Amrullah Saleh fled to Tajikistan. It also meant the western model of democracy in Afghanistan ceased to exist, with the Taliban saying it would soon declare the nation an Islamic Emirate soon. 

Eyewitnesses said the Taliban met little resistance in their race to the Presidential Palace, just as there was hardly any challenge as they captured provincial capitals in the last few days.  Trying to show a moderate face, the Taliban had earlier in the day made statements about protecting the life and dignity of all people, including women, and not indulging in revenge attacks. But there was no clarity on whether  they meant what they said. 

All through the day, there were hectic talks on a smooth transfer of power with the government side represented by Abdullah Abdullah, who heads the High Council for National Reconciliation, former president Hamid Karzai, leader of Hizb-e-Islami Gulbudin Hekmatyar. Abdullah Abdullah is a known critic of Ghani.

Meanwhile, helicopters raced overhead to evacuate personnel from the US Embassy to the Kabul airport. Later in the day, all commercial flights were suspended with only military aircraft being allowed to operate. As for India, it managed to operate a Delhi-bound Air India flight out of Kabul. 

Panicked residents swarmed banks for a second straight day to withdraw their savings, while many were resigned to the hardliners reimposing rule based on harsh interpretation of Islamic laws. For the tens of thousands who had sought refuge in Kabul in recent weeks after the fall of provinces, the overwhelming mood was one of fear. 

From president to ex
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani flies away to Tajikistan. Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the Afghan National Reconciliation Council calls him former president

Russians to stay
The US pulls out diplomats from its Kabul mission using helicopters amid heavy troop presence, but Russia isn’t evacuating, says Taliban promised safety to its embassy

129 fly to india
Air India flight with 129 passengers from Kabul lands in Delhi. On the Delhi-Kabul leg of the flight, it had about 40 passengers. Will it be the last flight from there for now?

Taliban takeover 
While Taliban said their forces will enter some parts of Kabul to prevent looting and chaos, later in the day spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the forces have been allowed to swarm into the city

Saigon rerun at US embassy? 
A photo of US army’s Chinook chopper hovering above its Kabul embassy drew comparisons to the rescue mission at Saigon in Vietnam in 1975, where a US pull out had left the country in chaos. However, Secretary of State Antony Blinken dismissed the comparisons, saying: “We went to Afghanistan with one mission in mind and that mission has been successful.”


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