Taliban mark first anniversary of U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

The Taliban have celebrated this Wednesday, declared a public holiday in Afghanistan, the first anniversary of the withdrawal of US troops from the country, which ended 20 years of foreign military presence after the seizure of power by the insurgents.

On the morning of August 31, 2021, Taliban supporters flocked to the airfield of the Afghan capital to celebrate the takeoff of the last U.S. military plane, ending the withdrawal of troops announced by Washington, which had set a deadline of September 11, a particularly symbolic date because of the 2001 attacks that precisely triggered the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

On that Tuesday in August, the Taliban took to the streets of the Afghan capital, Kabul, to shoot into the air to show their “joy” at the withdrawal, which meant, according to the group’s spokesman for international affairs, Suhail Shahin, the “full independence” of Afghanistan.

The same images were repeated Wednesday, a year later, during a military celebration at Bagram airfield, once the major U.S. military coordination center in Afghanistan, located about 70 kilometers north of the Afghan capital, Kabul.

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Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement Wednesday that on the first anniversary of the withdrawal of “foreign forces” in Afghanistan, pressure policies and sanctions against the Afghan people have worsened the situation, Jaama news agency reported.

Also the representative of the permanent mission to the United Nations in Afghanistan, Naseer Ahmad Faiq, explained to a meeting of the UN Security Council, one year later, his concerns about the situation in Afghanistan, especially the political and social regression that even the international community has not been able to stop.

“The doors to secondary education remain closed to girls; our youth have no hope for their future. Afghan citizens of different religions and ethnicities remain vulnerable,” he explained, adding that many Afghans “are unemployed” and have been forced to flee the country.

There are also “credible reports” of enforced disappearances, torture, extrajudicial killings and widespread violence against human rights activists, journalists, protesters and opponents, as well as civilians accused of links to resistance forces in Baghlan, Panjshir and Tajar.

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“The good news, compared to other years, is that there has been a notable decrease in civilian deaths, and an increase in national resources to combat corruption,” he explained, according to a statement from the UN mission in Afghanistan.

He called on the Taliban to respect human rights, while calling for the opening of schools for girls, a decision condemned by the entire international community, as well as a general relaxation of restrictions against citizens.

The Taliban embarked on a reconquest that, province after province, culminated in mid-August 2021 with the formal seizure of Kabul and the flight of the then president, Ashraf Ghani, giving rise in turn to a hasty evacuation that left scenes of panic and chaos at the capital’s international airport.

The fundamentalists have installed a government marked by a lack of women and representatives of other political groups, while facing domestic and international criticism for limiting the rights of the population, especially women and girls.

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