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Thursday June 13, 2024

Mullah Baradar back in Afghanistan after 20 years

By AFP
August 18, 2021
Mullah Baradar back in Afghanistan after 20 years

KABUL: The Taliban’s co-founder returned to Afghanistan Tuesday following the group’s stunning takeover of the country, hours after they told government staff to return to work

-- though residents reacted cautiously and few women took to the streets. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar’s arrival from Qatar -- where he has spent months leading talks with the United States and then Afghan peace negotiators -- crowns a stunning comeback for the Taliban after being ousted 20 years ago.

Baradar, now deputy leader of the group, chose to touch down in Afghanistan’s second biggest city Kandahar -- the Taliban’s spiritual birthplace and capital during their first time in power. He landed hours after evacuation flights from Kabul’s airport restarted after chaos Monday when huge crowds mobbed the apron, with some people so desperate they clung to the fuselage of a US military plane as it rolled down the runway for take-off.

Since the Taliban are back in power, they have sought to project an air of restraint and moderation, including by on Tuesday announcing a "general amnesty" for government workers. Some shops also reopened as traffic police were back on the streets, whileTaliban officials planned a first diplomatic meeting -- with the Russian ambassador.

In the capital, however, schools and universities remained closed, few women openly took to the streets and men had shed their Western clothes for traditional garb. "The fear is there," said a shopkeeper who asked not to be named after opening his small neighbourhood provisions store.

The UN Security Council also said Monday the international community must ensure Afghanistan does not become a breeding ground for terrorism. "The world is watching," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.