THE Taliban has rejected requests by the United States and its allies about keeping US forces on the ground longer to enable more people to be flown out.
Speaking to British news channel Sky News on Monday, spokesman Suhail Shaheen said: “If the US or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations – the answer is no. Or there would be consequences.”
“It’s a red line. [US] President [ Joe] Biden announced that on August 31 they would withdraw all their military forces. So if they extend it that means they are extending occupation.”
The British state minister for the armed forces, James Heappey, had said on Monday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson would request an extension to the US troops’ mandate at emergency G7 talks on Tuesday.
In remarks to broadcaster Sky he added: “I think everybody has to be clear that this is not just a discussion that happens between G7 leaders tomorrow, it is a discussion which happens with the Taliban.”
Since taking power in the country on August 15, the Taliban has been slow to take over the day-to-day running of the country.
The group has called on former government employees to continue doing their jobs. Negotiations with other political groups are under way to form a government.
The Taliban is also focussing effort on taking control of the province of Panjshir, the only hold-out against the Islamists’ rule. Taliban fighters are gathering around the province even as the Taliban say they are seeking a political solution.
Members of the opposition, journalists, human rights activists and local staff who worked for Western countries have feared acts of revenge from Afghanistan’s returned hard-line rulers. – Agencies □