The Latest: Pakistan warns about Afghan economic collapse
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s foreign minister on Tuesday urged the international community to act to prevent an “economic collapse” in neighboring Afghanistan after the takeover of the country by the Taliban and the pullout of U.S. forces.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi says it’s in the interest of peace and stability for the world to remain engaged and not abandon Afghanistan since more instability and further exodus of Afghans fleeing the Taliban rule were not in the interest of the nation.
He said that “this is a pivotal moment in Afghanistan’s history. International community must remain engaged, do not let economic collapse take place in Afghanistan.”
Qureshi spoke at a joint news conference with visiting German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Tuesday, a day after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, marking the end of the 20 years of war next door.
Qureshi said Pakistan facilitated the evacuation of more than 10,000 foreigners from Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover. He said Pakistan has already been hosting more than 3 million Afghan refugees for the past decades and that his Islamic nation lacks the capacity to absorb more refugees.
Maas said that while the Taliban have pledged to form an inclusive government and respect human rights, it remains to be seen whether they will live up to those commitments.
MORE ON AFGHANISTAN:
— Taliban control now-quiet Kabul airport after US withdrawal
— In Kabul, some fear economic collapse more than Taliban fist
— Analysis: War is over but not Biden’s Afghanistan challenges
— As US military leaves Kabul, many Americans, Afghans remain
— Last troops exit Afghanistan, ending America’s longest war
— Qatar emerges as key player in Afghanistan after US pullout
— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/afghanistan
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
KABUL, Afghanistan — At one of Kabul’s upscale wedding halls, a celebration was in full swing around midday Tuesday. Afghan dance music could be heard from inside the hall.
According to reception hall’s manager, Shadab Azimi, 26, at least seven wedding parties have been held since the Taliban takeover of Kabul two weeks earlier, with festivities moved to daylight hours because of security concerns.
The Taliban, who during their previous rule between 1996-2001 had banned most music, except for devotional Islamic songs, did not announce a ban of live music, Azimi said. However, wedding singers canceled on their own, for fear of running afoul of possible new Taliban restrictions.
He said in recent celebrations, couples played taped music. Azimi said business was down by 80% over the past two weeks, presumably because of a sense of uncertainty.
The manager said Taliban patrols check in a couple of times a day, asking if he needs help with security, but have not seemed threatening. And unlike the security forces under the deposed government, the Taliban have not demanded bribes, he said.
“Former officials, including police officers, were asking us for money and we were forced to host their friends for lunches and dinners,” he said.
Even before the Taliban takeover, wedding parties were traditionally been segregated, with men and women celebrating in different spaces.
TOKYO — Japan’s top diplomat says his country has temporarily moved its embassy from Afghanistan to Turkey but now plans to relocate it to Qatar, where the Taliban have an office. The Gulf Arab country is also expected to play an important political role in what comes next for Afghanistan.
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi earlier this month visited the Middle East. He told reporters on Tuesday that his talks with leaders in the region suggest that Doha, the capital of Qatar, will carry growing political importance.
“I believe various forms of communication will take place,” Motegi said.
Japanese nationals at the embassy in Kabul were among the first to be evacuated from Afghanistan. Most of them were airlifted by the British military before Tokyo dispatched its Self-Defense Force aircraft last week as the security outside the Kabul airport worsened.
Last Thursday and Friday, Japan evacuated only one Japanese citizen, along with 14 Afghan people at the request of U.S. military, to Pakistan.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said that safe evacuations of the rest of Japanese nationals and Afghans who worked for the Japanese Embassy and aid organization remain a top priority.
KABUL, Afghanistan — Even as the U.S. and its NATO allies left Afghanistan, some of the gains of the last 20 years were on display as boys and girls rushed to school early on Tuesday.
Masooda was hurrying to get to her fifth grade class at a private school. “I’m not afraid of the Taliban,” she said. “Why should I be?”
Students had been called back to school four days ago. The Taliban have said students will be segregated by sex, but in many schools that was already the practice, except for the early grades.
TOKYO — Afghan athlete Hossain Rasouli finally got his chance on Tuesday to participate in the Paralympics.
Rasouli and teammate Zakia Khudadadi got to Tokyo on Saturday after being evacuated from Kabul. They arrived a week late, and since then the two-person team have been sequestered in the Paralympic Village for privacy and safety reasons.
They have also declined to speak to the media, before or after events.
Rasouli is primarily a sprinter but arrived too late for his event. So he tried the long jump in the T47 class, his only event at these Games, and finished last in the 13-man competition.
Khudadadi is set to become the first female Afghan athlete to compete in the Paralympics since 2004. She will challenge in the women’s 44-49-kilogram weight category in taekwondo on Thursday.
The Afghan athletes were met in Tokyo at the Paralympic Village on the weekend by IPC president Andrew Parsons.
Their arrival came less than two weeks after the IPC was informed the Afghan team could not travel to Tokyo, a move, Parsons said, “that broke the hearts of all involved in the Paralympic movement and left both athletes devastated.”
Parsons said that announcement started a “major global operation that led to their safe evacuation from Afghanistan” and arrival in Japan via France.