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‘Great victory’ as Taliban mark turbulent first year in power

Published : Tuesday, 16 August, 2022 at 12:00 AM  Count : 132

KABUL, Aug 15: The Taliban marked the first anniversary of their return to power in Afghanistan with a national holiday Monday, following a turbulent year that saw women's rights crushed and a humanitarian crisis worsen.
Exactly a year ago, the hardline Islamists captured Kabul after their nationwide lightning offensive against government forces ended 20 years of US-led military intervention.
"We fulfilled the obligation of jihad and liberated our country," said Niamatullah Hekmat, a fighter who entered Kabul on August 15 last year just hours after then-president Ashraf Ghani fled the country.
A chaotic withdrawal of foreign forces continued until August 31, with tens of thousands of people rushing to Kabul's airport hoping to be evacuated on any flight out of Afghanistan.
Images of crowds storming the airport, climbing atop aircraft -- and some clinging to a departing US military cargo plane as it rolled down the runway --  aired on news bulletins around the world.
Authorities have so far not announced any official celebrations to mark the anniversary, but state television said it would air special programmes.
Taliban fighters, however, expressed happiness that their movement was now in power -- even as aid agencies say that half the country's 38 million people face extreme poverty.
"The time when we entered Kabul, and when the Americans left, those were moments of joy," said Hekmat, now a member of the special forces guarding the presidential palace.
But for ordinary Afghans -- especially women -- the return of the Taliban has only increased hardships.
Initially, the Taliban promised a softer version of the harsh Islamist rule that characterised their first stint in power from 1996 to 2001.
But many restrictions have been imposed on women to comply with the movement's austere vision of Islam.     --AFP

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