PM Modi discusses Afghan situation with Putin; Taliban make key appointments: Top developments

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NEW DELHI: Western forces at Kabul airport worked flat out on Tuesday to get people out of Afghanistan before the August 31 deadline as thousands remain stranded in the war-torn nation. Taliban have warned the US and UK of consequences if they breach the pullout deadline.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin over the crisis unfolding in Afghanistan.
Here are the top developments …
Chaos at airport
Widespread chaos punctuated by sporadic violence has gripped Kabul’s airport, with Western troops and Afghan security guards driving back crowds desperate to flee.
Countries that have evacuated some 50,000 people over the past 10 days are trying to meet the deadline agreed earlier with the Taliban for the withdrawal of foreign forces, a NATO diplomat told Reuters.
“Every foreign force member is working at a war-footing pace to meet the deadline,” said the official, who declined to be identified.
Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries – Britain, Canada, France Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States – will meet virtually later on Tuesday to discuss the crisis.
India brings back 78 more people
India on Tuesday brought back 78 people, including 25 of its nationals and a number of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus from Dushanbe, a day after they were evacuated from Taliban-besieged Kabul to the Tajik city.
The group along with three copies of the Sikh scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, was airlifted from Kabul to Dushanbe by a military transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force on Monday.
With Tuesday’s evacuation, the number of people brought back to Delhi reached over 800 since August 16 when the first group was airlifted from Kabul, a day after the Taliban seized control of the Afghan capital city.
India’s mission to evacuate its citizens and Afghan partners from Kabul has been named as “Operation Devi Shakti”.
PM Modi speaks to Putin
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Russian President Putin over the phone for nearly 45 minutes to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.
He had earlier spoken to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and discussed the unfolding security situation in Afghanistan and its implications on the region and the world.
PM Modi has been taking stock of the situation in Afghanistan and has directed officials to ensure safe evacuation of Indians stranded in the crisis-hit country.
Taliban make appointments
Meanwhile, Taliban have made key appointments as they inch closer to formalising a government in Afghanistan.
The Taliban have appointed a new finance minister, an intelligence chief, and an acting interior minister in Afghanistan, the Pajhwok news agency reported on Tuesday.
It said Gul Agha would be the finance minister and Sadr Ibrahim would be the acting interior minister. Najibullah would be intelligence chief, while Mullah Shirin would be Kabul governor and Hamdullah Nomani the mayor of the capital.
They also appointed an obscure official as acting central bank governor as signs emerge of a financial crunch in Afghanistan, with ATMs running out of cash and prices of essential goods spiraling.
Mohammad Idris, who headed the Taliban’s economic commission, will “address the looming banking issues and the problems of the people” as head of Da Afghanistan Bank, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said on Twitter.
Pakistan urges ‘inclusive’ deal with Taliban
Pakistan’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that an inclusive political settlement is the best way forward for peace and stability in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover. Pakistan fully supports efforts in that direction, he added.
According to a foreign ministry statement, Shah Mahmood Qureshi made the remarks in a phone call with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, about the situation in Afghanistan.
The statement says Qureshi told Lavrov that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was of critical importance for Pakistan and the region.
It said Qureshi informed Lavrov about Pakistan’s outreach to regional countries for consultations on the challenges arising out of developments in Afghanistan.
(With inputs from agencies)

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