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Taliban warns of consequences as Biden hints at extending evacuation deadline

As the Government formation is getting delayed, the Taliban has clarified that an announcement will not be made until the last US soldier leaves the soil of Afghanistan. The deadline is August 31, which, Biden says, might be extended as unforeseen problems like overcrowding are blocking the evacuation process. But Taliban says 'no' to extension. Will there be a confrontation? There is also a growing internal threat from the Resistance Front in Panjshir Valley which has vowed not to give in. They want a federal system of Government. They have appealed to the US for weapons and aid to fight the Taliban and push on Kabul.

NEW DELHI, Aug 23: It is over a week now since the Taliban took control of Kabul, the Capital of Afghanistan, on August 15 even as President Ashraf Ghani fled the country fearing for his life when the fighters were closing in, yet a new Government has not been set up.

Reason: A new Government will not be announced till the last US soldier present in Afghanistan leaves, the Taliban has decided, according to reports.

On the other hand, Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said on Monday, “If the US or UK were to seek additional time (beyond the deadline of August 31) to continue evacuations — the answer is no. Or there would be consequences,” Sky News reported.

But the chaotic scene at the Kabul airport delaying the evacuation of foreigners and those Afghans fleeing their country for fear of reprisals for working for foreign agencies, all consequences of the premature surrender of the Ghani Government and the quick takeover of Kabul by the Taliban, was not anticipated while making the withdrawal plan. Therefore, the US may have to extend the deadline of August 31 as indicated by President Joe Biden earlier, and also on Sunday.

In such an eventuality, what would happen to Taliban's warning of "consequences."? What would be the US reactions? Are the Taliban capable of stopping US troops in their track? So many questions! Do the Taliban have the wherewithal to be present at many places at the same time, and fighting? Because there is a great tide of resistance rolling out from the well-fortified Panjshir Valley province, which has never surrendered to the Taliban in the past nor present. About a lakh of former Government's soldiers and fighters are fanning out!

As the Taliban has started blocking roads leading to the airport and trying to stop Afghan evacuees from leaving, thousands more of US soldiers are pouring back into Afghanistan to clear the approach roads and manage the chaotic evacuation.

US freezes Afghan bank accounts

Taliban is already in the soup over a financial crunch over governance expenditure with little help from what is left of the Ghani Governmnet.

Domestic problems are becoming insurmountable with the US freezing all Afghan cash in banks under its control. The US froze nearly $9.5 billion in the Afghan central bank and stopped shipments of cash. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund too have halted their support for Afghanistan. A Taliban coalition when they start governance, in case, are likely to face difficulties in payments of salaries and other bills.

Talks on Government formation

Meanwhile, members of the Taliban's political office on Saturday met in Kabul with a number of politicians including former president Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, the head of High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), and discussions focused on the overall political situation including the formation of an inclusive government.

“Our political officials met with leaders here in Kabul, their views are important, discussions are moving, InshaAllah, there is hope for an announcement on the government soon,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, according to reports.

Abdullah Abdullah has confirmed the meeting with the Taliban leaders through social media. However, there is serious difference of opinion over the formation of an inclusive Government.

An announcement is overdue.

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