Afghanistan’s embattled president, Ashraf Ghani has left the country, joining his fellow citizens and foreigners in a stampede fleeing the advancing Taliban and signalling the end of a 20-year Western experiment aimed at remaking Afghanistan.
This was confirmed by Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the Afghan National Reconciliation Council, in an online video on Sunday.
He said, “The former president of Afghanistan left Afghanistan, leaving the country in this difficult situation. God should hold him accountable.”
Associated Press news agency reports that Ghani flew out of the country. However, a report by Al Jazeera indicated that the President might have left for Tajikistan.
Abdullah said he wants security forces to continue providing security for Kabul and asked the Taliban to wait for talks before entering the city.
But the Taliban, which for hours had been on the outskirts of Kabul, announced soon after that they would move further into a city gripped by panic throughout the day as helicopters raced overhead to evacuate personnel from the US embassy. Several other Western missions also prepared to pull their people out.
Civilians fearing that the Taliban could impose a brutal rule rushed to leave the country as well, lining up at cash machines to withdraw their life savings.
The desperately poor – who had left homes in the countryside for the hoped-for safety in the capital – remained in their thousands in parks and open spaces throughout the city.
In a stunning route, the Taliban has captured 26 of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals since August 6, despite the billions of dollars spent by the US and NATO over nearly 20 years to build up Afghan security forces.