Taliban declares the war is over in Afghanistan

Taliban declares the war is over in Afghanistan

The Taliban have declared the war in Afghanistan over after its fighters swept into the capital, Kabul, and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country saying he wanted to avoid bloodshed.

There was panic on the streets of Kabul on Monday as heavily armed Taliban fighters took control of the abandoned presidential palace and Western nations scrambled to evacuate their citizens. Hundreds of Afghans desperate to leave the country also flooded the Kabul airport.

Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman and negotiator, told media that the militants would hold talks in the coming days aimed at forming an “open, inclusive Islamic government.”

Earlier, a Taliban official said the group would announce from the palace the restoration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the formal name of the country under Taliban rule before the militants were ousted by U.S.-led forces in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, which were orchestrated by al-Qaida while it was being sheltered by the Taliban.

The Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison,  said he’s “devastated” about developments in Afghanistan and said the cabinet’s national security committee will meet on Monday to review Australian operations out of Kabul.

Morrison said his government has already resettled 430 Afghans and their families who worked for Australia, and was planning to airlift those remaining there.

He described the situation in Afghanistan, particularly for women and girls, as “terrible”.

The Foreign Ministry of Sri Lanka has issued a statement with regard to the current situation in Afghanistan and the ongoing efforts to evacuate Sri Lankan nationals in the war-torn country. 

The Foreign Ministry says it is currently in the process of working with international partners to facilitate the return of Sri Lankan nationals in Afghanistan, if they wish to return. 

“The Sri Lanka Embassy in Kabul, which is functioning from a hotel, currently does not have any Sri Lankan nationals present and is manned by one local staff.” 

The Taliban insists it had no links with the LTTE before or after the defeat of the rebels.

Speaking exclusively to Sri Lankan newspaper, Daily Mirror, Taliban spokesman and international negotiator Suhail Shaheen said that the Taliban is an independent liberation force. “we don’t have any links to the Tamil Tigers. We are an independent liberation force which struggled against foreign occupation for the last 20 years for the liberation of our country, Afghanistan,” Shaheen said.

Shaheen insisted that Buddhist sites in Afghanistan will not be at risk under a Taliban-led administration. “Buddhist sites in Afghanistan are not at risk, I refute any claim in this regard,” he said.

He also said that Sri Lanka should not consider the Taliban as terrorists. “We are freedomfighters of Afghanistan like your ancestors who struggled for liberation of your country. But we are victims of poisonous propaganda,” Shaheen said.