Afghanistan: Live updates as Taliban announces amnesty, urging Afghans to return to ‘routine life’

The Taliban on Tuesday declared a “general amnesty” for Afghan citizens, urging them to return to work. The statement, seen by AFP, said people could return to their “routine life with full confidence.”

It comes as senior Taliban leader Amir Khan Muttaqi was reported to have arrived in Kabul to negotiate with the country’s political leadership, including former President Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, who previously headed the country’s negotiating council.

Muttaqi was a higher education minister when the Taliban last ruled Afghanistan. He began making contact with Afghan political leaders even before Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the presidential palace in Kabul on Sunday.

A Taliban spokesman said the talks underway in the Afghan capital were aimed at bringing other non-Taliban leaders into the new state architecture, which Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has said will be an “inclusive Afghan government.”

Here are all the latest updates on what’s happening in Afghanistan

Women won’t be ‘victims’

Enamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission, indicated on Tuesday that women should also return to work. Under the Taliban’s previous leadership, women were not allowed to study or work and had to wear burqas.

“The Islamic Emirate doesn’t want women to be victims,” Samangani said, using the militants’ term for Afghanistan. “They should be in government structure according to Shariah law.”

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.”

Shortly before midnight local time on Monday, Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office, shared a video that appeared to show Taliban members speaking to staff at a hospital, including women. He said “everyone” would be brought back to work.

The militant group has sought to project calm after its lightning-fast advance through the country and capture of Kabul on Sunday. But many residents in the capital are still staying at home in fear for their lives.

Older generations remember the Taliban’s ultraconservative Islamic views and medieval punishments including stonings, public flogging and executions, before the U.S-led invasion that followed the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks ended the militant group’s reign.

Among the women who returned to work on Tuesday were female anchors at the 24-hour Tolo News channel.

Evacuations resume

Stefano Pontecorvo, NATO’s senior civilian representative to Afghanistan, posted a video of Kabul airport on Tuesday showing an empty tarmac, in stark contrast to the chaotic scenes observed the day before.

“Runway in HKIA Kabul International airport is open. I see airplanes landing and taking off, Pontecorvo wrote on Twitter. “Situation is under control,” he added.

Thousands of Afghans had crowded the tarmac on Monday. Distressing footage showed desperate Afghans attempting to flee the country by clinging to departing aircraft but later falling to their death.

Among the planes that left Kabul overnight was a French military plane. France’s Minister for the Armed Forces said this first evacuation flight landed in Abu Dhabi with “French citizens and nationals of partner countries” on board.

“We are actively working to organise the next rotations,” she added.

Germany’s Defence Ministry announced that its first evacuation flight had only seven passengers on board. It said however that the plane “brought our own forces there.”

“They are now providing security so that other people can be protected on their way to the airport,” it said.

EU Foreign Ministers are scheduled to convene by videoconference at 16:00 CEST for an extraordinary meeting to discuss Afghanistan.

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