Afghanistan has imposed a night-time curfew across most of the country as the government tries to stop a relentless onslaught by the Taliban, who have captured land and key border posts.
“To curb violence and limit Taliban activity, a night curfew has been imposed in 31 provinces across the country,” the interior ministry said, with the exception of Kabul, Panjshir and Nangarhar.
When the United States concluded its 20-year military mission in Afghanistan in late August, the Taliban made rapid strides across the country. Most of those victories occurred in unpopulated rural territory, while Afghan security forces focused on defending Kabul and the provincial capitals.
Negotiations on power-sharing between President Ashraf Ghani’s government and the Taliban to reach a political solution and end the “eternal war” have failed to achieve peace, despite international pressure forced the Islamists to lay down their weapons to cease fire. The Taliban have said they will keep fighting until a new government is negotiated in Kabul and Ghani is removed from power.
After a phone call with Ghani on Friday, US President Joe Biden said the Taliban attack was “in direct conflict with the movement’s claims to support a negotiated solution to the conflict.” Biden pledged to continue to support Afghan forces, including allocating $1 billion to the Afghan air force and providing additional Black Hawk helicopters.
In recent weeks, the Taliban have seized border crossings, threatening to deprive the Kabul government of a vital source of income and make it dependent on foreign aid.
Pakistan has replaced paramilitary units along its border with Afghanistan with regular troops, a senior government official told the Financial Times on Sunday, raising fears that the impact of the Taliban attack can spread. More than 1,000 Afghan soldiers are believed to have fled to Tajikistan this month after clashing with Taliban fighters.
“We don’t want that to happen again in Pakistan,” the official said.
A provincial official in Peshawar said that the introduction of a nighttime curfew in particular increased the risk of refugees crossing the border. “Humans with [financial] The media is trying to get out, especially from the cities,” the official said. “People are very worried. People are afraid of bloodshed. “
According to the UN, there are about 3 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan, of which half are registered.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Saturday that overburdened Afghan forces were “consolidating” to protect key populations, border crossings and infrastructure. “As for whether he will stop the Taliban, I think the first thing we need to do is make sure that [the Afghan government] it can slow down momentum,” Austin told reporters in Alaska ahead of a weeklong trip to the Indo-Pacific.
The United States has carried out airstrikes across the country over the past week in support of Afghan security forces, according to Pentagon officials. U.S. Central Command, which is in charge of military operations in Afghanistan, on Tuesday said the withdrawal was more than 95 percent complete and it had handed over seven facilities to the Afghan Defense Ministry.
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