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September 21, 2021

Taliban to announce formation of new government in Afghanistan

The Taliban are expected to form a government as early as Friday as it faces domestic and international pressure to rule Afghanistan with greater tolerance, especially on women’s rights.

The announcement of a new administration could be made after Friday afternoon prayers, two Taliban sources told the press, as the group shift gears to governing the country while also trying to deflect an armed challenge from rebels in the Panjshir Valley region.

While the West has adopted a wait-and-see approach to the Taliban, there were some signs of engagement with the new leaders gathering pace.

The United Nations said it had restarted humanitarian flights to parts of the country, linking the Pakistani capital Islamabad with Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan and Kandahar in the south.

Tens of thousands of Afghans have been internally displaced due to the recent violence. As many as half a million others are also estimated to become refugees in neighboring countries such as Pakistan and Iran.

The country’s main airport in Kabul remains closed but is expected to reopen in days with the help of technical experts from Qatar.

Foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said the EU hopes to coordinate its contacts with the Taliban through a joint EU presence in Kabul that will oversee evacuations and ensure that a new government in Afghanistan fulfils commitments on security and human rights.

“We have decided to work in a coordinated manner, to coordinate our contacts with the Taliban, including through a joint European Union presence in Kabul… if the security conditions are met,” Borrell said in a statement during a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers in Slovenia.

He added that while the EU would not recognize a Taliban government, it would pursue “operational engagement” if certain conditions are met.

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