The Taliban on Monday marked a year since they occupied the Afghan capital, Kabul, a quick takeover that led to a hasty flight of the nation’s Western-backed leaders, sending the economy fell into a jam and fundamentally changed the country.
Bearded Taliban fighters, some with rifles or white banners about their movement, held small victory parades in the streets of the capital. A small group had marched past the US Embassy before, chanting “Long live Islam” and “Death to America.”
A year after the dramatic day, much has changed in Afghanistan. Former insurgents struggled for power and remained isolated internationally. The economic downturn has plunged millions of Afghans into poverty and even starvation, as the flow of foreign aid has slowed to a trickle.
Meanwhile, hardliners still appear to be disapproving of the Taliban-led government, which has imposed severe restrictions on access to education and employment for girls and women. despite initial promises to the contrary. A year on, underage girls are still banned from school and women are required to cover their heads from head to toe in public, exposing only their eyes.
Some are trying to find a way to keep education from stagnating for a generation of young women and underground family schools have sprung up.
A year ago, thousands of Afghans flocked to Kabul’s international airport to flee the Taliban amid the chaotic withdrawal of US troops from Kabul after 20 years of war – America’s longest conflict.
Some flights resumed relatively quickly after those tumultuous days. On Monday, several commercial flights were scheduled to land and take off from a runway that last summer saw Afghan men cling to the wheels of planes taking off, some falling. death land.
Schoolyards were empty on Monday when the Taliban announced a public holiday to mark the day, which they called “August 15 Pride Day” and “First Anniversary of Returning to Power.”
Abdul Wahid Rayan, head of the Bakhtar News Agency run by the Taliban, wrote: “The reliance on God and the support of the people brought great victory and freedom to the country.” “Today, August 15, marks the victory of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan against the US and its allies occupying Afghanistan.”
On the eve of the anniversary, former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani defended what he said was his decision to flee in a split second, saying he wanted to avoid the humiliation of surrendering to insurgents. He told CNN that on the morning of August 15, 2021, with the Taliban at the gates of Kabul, he was the last person present at the presidential palace after his guards disappeared.
Tomas Niklasson, the European Union’s special envoy to Afghanistan, said the bloc remained committed to the Afghan people and “sustained stability, prosperity and peace in Afghanistan and the region.”
“This will require an inclusive political process with the full, equal and meaningful participation of all Afghan men and women and respect for human rights,” Niklasson wrote.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said international responsibility for Afghanistan remains after NATO’s withdrawal.
“A regime that tramples on human rights under any circumstances cannot be recognized,” she said in a statement. “But we must not forget the people in Afghanistan, even a year after the Taliban took over.”
Faiez reports from Islamabad