Afghan men have been photographed apparently enjoying life under Taliban rule by visiting restaurants and parks and riding in pedal boats despite the horrific abuses being carried out by the new regime.
In Herat yesterday, there were scenes of men laughing together while making the most of their relative freedoms, even while armed Taliban soldiers stood guard nearby.
Afghan men flocked to restaurants, gathered in a park and even enjoyed a leisurely ride on the water in scenes appearing to show normal life far removed from the violence and oppression of women elsewhere.
There were similar images last month of Taliban fighters trying out funfair dodgems as the terror group tries to soften its global image with a more progressive and moderate outlook.
But away from the cameras, women’s rights continue to be oppressed, protests are being shut down and it comes only weeks after terrifying scenes at Kabul Airport and elsewhere in Afghanistan.
Many Afghan men are continuing to enjoy life under Taliban rule by visiting restaurants and parks and riding in pedal boats despite the horrific abuses being carried out by the new regime
The Afghan citizens flocked to restaurants, gathered in the park and even enjoyed a leisurely ride on the water in scenes of normal life far removed from the tales of violence and oppression
Afghan men are seen in a restaurant in Herat on Friday with no women in sight as residents adjust to the new Taliban regime
In Herat, there were scenes of joy as men laughed together while making the most of their relative freedoms
There have been reports of door-to-door executions of women and allies of the previous administration, amid crackdowns on girls’ access to education, sport and a career.
The UN chief has called on all countries around the world to order the Taliban to deliver an inclusive government that respects the rights of women and girls.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said world leaders should engage with the new regime and tell them Afghanistan should not be a sanctuary for terrorism anymore and should play a constructive role in international relations.
He told a news conference on Friday ‘it’s important that independently of different strategies, of different forms of contact, all countries are able to convey the same message and to engage with the Taliban in an effective way.’
He said the UN is ‘permanently engaging with the Taliban and we believe that a dialogue with the Taliban is absolutely essential at the present moment.’
Guterres said humanitarian aid is also essential and efforts must be made to prevent ‘an economic meltdown’ in Afghanistan.
A barefoot Taliban soldier carrying a gun walks outside a mosque in Herat as Afghanistan adjusts to its new government and way of life
There have been reports of door-to-door executions of women and allies of the previous administration, amid crackdowns on girls’ access to education, sport and a career
An armed Taliban soldier stands by the pond in the park where a number of men enjoyed a pedal boat ride in the waters on Friday
He said the country’s financial situation is ‘very difficult’ and ‘it is essential to find ways, through some waivers or some mechanisms’ to inject cash in the economy to avoid a meltdown.
Looking ahead, Guterres said, ‘what would be positive is to have simultaneously the formation in Afghanistan of an inclusive government’ that respects previous international commitments by the Afghan state and takes into account concerns about terrorism, human rights and other issues leading to ‘a normalisation of the relations of the international community with Afghanistan.’
Despite his appeal, a number of governments have signalled their reluctance to formally recognise the newly-formed Taliban government.
Pakistan’s foreign minister says the international community is not in a hurry to certify the government, although it has a desire to engage with it.
The UN chief has called on all countries around the world to order the Taliban to deliver an inclusive government that respects the rights of women and girls
A number of governments have signalled their reluctance to formally recognise the newly-formed Taliban government
Afghans gather near an armoured vehicle in Herat on Friday while women’s rights are being eroded under the new Taliban rule
Shah Mahmood Qureshi spoke at a joint news conference after holding talks with his Spanish counterpart Jose Manuel Albares in the capital, Islamabad.
Qureshi said that he had come to this belief after having meetings with diplomats from various countries. He said that ‘people are watching, they are waiting, they are looking at the unfolding events of Afghanistan.’
Qureshi said ‘I see a desire to engage but not a rush to recognize’ the Taliban.
In his remarks, Albares said Spain wants to see a stable and peaceful Afghanistan.
He also said Spain wanted safe transit for those who wanted to leave Afghanistan to travel to Spain.
Meanwhile Russia’s top diplomat says he is not recommending that an official delegation be sent from Moscow to a ceremony inaugurating the Taliban.
Taliban supporters pray in a park in Herat. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said world leaders should engage with the new regime
German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle says 10 of its correspondents in Afghanistan have left the country for Pakistan
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov this week appeared to suggest that Russia could send high-level representation to such a ceremony if the Taliban formed a government that sufficiently represented the country’s ethnic groups.
But on Friday he was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying he envisioned only representation by Russia’s ambassador.
In a change of tone from the US, officials said if the Taliban lives up to all its commitments, brings greater stability to Afghanistan and the region, demonstrates widespread inclusion, and protects the gains of the last 20 years ‘we’ll work with it.’
He said the standards the international community has set are clear and include facilitating safe passage for Afghans and foreign nationals who want to leave Afghanistan and respecting the country’s obligations under international humanitarian law ‘including those related to the protection of civilians.’
Afghan women walk together into a mosque amid increasing reports of violence and crackdowns on freedom of speech
US,officials said if the Taliban lives up to all its commitments, brings greater stability to Afghanistan and the region, demonstrates widespread inclusion, and protects the gains of the last 20 years ‘we’ll work with it’
‘We’re watching closely to see that those standards are met,’ he said.
DeLaurentis told the council that following the US withdrawal and the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan needs the United Nations and the UN political mission in the country ‘more than ever.’
He said ‘the United States remains committed to the people of Afghanistan,’ and as the country’s largest humanitarian donor it is helping partners on the ground provide assistance, ‘but the needs are vast.’
With the diplomatic footprint in the country reduced, DeLaurentis said, ‘the UN has a vitally important role to play’ not only in coordinating aid but in preventing human rights violations and abuses and pursuing accountability for those that have occurred, and in protecting children and civilians.
Meanwhile German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle says 10 of its correspondents in Afghanistan have left the country for Pakistan, after it was previously unable to get them out of Kabul by air.
A UN development agency said Afghanistan is teetering on the brink of ‘universal poverty’ which could become a reality in the middle of next year
Deutsche Welle said in a statement Friday that the journalists, including its only female correspondent in Afghanistan, were able to leave on Thursday.
It didn’t detail how exactly they got out of Afghanistan, but said that ‘due to a variety of reasons’ an evacuation by air had not worked out. The group had waited unsuccessfully outside the Kabul airport for days.
As a result, the broadcaster said, ‘all options were explored to get the group out of the country by another route.’
Deutsche Welle director general Peter Limbourg thanked the German government, ‘without whom this evacuation would not have been possible,’ and Qatar, which he said made an ‘enormous effort.’ He said authorities in Islamabad had granted permission for the evacuation of the families on humanitarian grounds.
The evacuated correspondents are to be taken to Bonn, Germany. The broadcaster said it is in talks with authorities to bring relatives of the employees of its Dari and Pashto services to Germany, as well as two correspondents and their families who had returned to their hometowns after weeks of waiting in Kabul.
It comes amid a warning from the UN development agency which said Afghanistan is teetering on the brink of ‘universal poverty’ which could become a reality in the middle of next year unless urgent efforts are made to bolster local communities and their economies.
Per capita income more than doubled in the last 20 years, life expectancy at birth was extended by about nine years, the number of years of schooling rose from six to 10, ‘and we got women into university’
It said the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has put 20 years of steady economic gains at risk.
The UN Development Program outlined four scenarios for Afghanistan following the Taliban’s August 15 assumption of power that predict the country’s GDP will decline between 3.6 per cent and 13.2 per cent in the next fiscal year starting in June 2022, depending on the intensity of the crisis and how much the world engages with the Taliban. That is in sharp contrast to the expected 4 per cent growth in GDP before the fall of the government.
‘Afghanistan pretty much faces universal poverty by the middle of next year,’ Kanni Wignaraja, UNDP’s Asia-Pacific Director, told a news conference Thursday launching its 28-page assessment. ‘That’s where we’re heading – it’s 97-98% (poverty rate) no matter how you work these projections.’
Currently, the poverty rate is 72 per cent and Wignaraja pointed to many development gains after the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001: Per capita income more than doubled in the last 20 years, life expectancy at birth was extended by about nine years, the number of years of schooling rose from six to 10, ‘and we got women into university.’
But she said Afghanistan now faces ‘a humanitarian and development disaster’ resulting from political instability, frozen foreign reserves, a collapsed public finance system, ‘a crush on local banking because of this,’ as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.