Defying the US intelligence reports, the Taliban have swept into Afghanistan’s capital Kabul and wrested control from the government which collapsed after the embattled president left the country and its people to fend for themselves.
Heavily armed Taliban fighters swamped the capital, and several entered Kabul’s abandoned presidential palace. According to the Associated Pres, Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman and negotiator, the militants would hold talks in the coming days aimed at forming an “open, inclusive Islamic government.”
The Taliban will declare the country to be Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as it was known before the US led invasion in 2001.
Understandably, Kabul is gripped by panic.
As the Taliban closed in, President Ashraf Ghani flew out of the country.
“The former president of Afghanistan left Afghanistan, leaving the country in this difficult situation,” said Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the Afghan National Reconciliation Council and a long time rival of Ghani.
“God should hold him accountable.”
Afghanistan’s acting defense minister, Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, also did not hold back his criticism of the fleeing president.
“They tied our hands from behind and sold the country,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Curse Ghani and his gang.”
In a post on Facebook, Ashraf Ghani, after fleeing the country said that he left to avert bloodshed in the capital. without saying where he had gone.
Observers believe he might have flown to Tajakistan.
Former President of the country Hamid Karzai has proposed a three member council to negotiate the transition which includes himself, Abdullah Abdullah and leader of Hizb-e-Islami political and paramilitary group Gulbudin Hekmatyar.
Hamid Karzai, appearing in a video posted online, with his three young daughters around him, said he remains in Kabul to help the country maintain peace while the leadership changes.
“We are trying to solve the issue of Afghanistan with the Taliban leadership peacefully,” he said.
All Western powers are scurrying through the turmoil to get their diplomats and citizens out of Afghanistan.
The international leadership of the US led Nato forces is clearly under the spotlight. They having spent billions of dollars since 2001, had no clue about the might and planning precision of the Taliban.
It is a colossal failure of the Western intelligence officials, who only just okayed complete withdrawal of Western forces, which had not even completed when in a stunning rout, the Taliban seized nearly all of Afghanistan in just over a week.
What happens next will be observed very closely by all stakeholders. Some pundits believe the hardliner Taliban regime of Afghanistan may bring about ripple effects of the seismic shifts of their country into the neighboring Pakistan which may have serious implications for India.