Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, in a recorded message, today said that the country was reeling under huge threat due to the Taliban’s takeover but “the situation is under control”. While sources said that Ghani was likely to quit, TOLO News stated that he had not resigned during his address to the nation.
The Afghanistan president’s address coincides with the Taliban tightening their territorial stranglehold around Kabul and the country’s second-and third-largest cities falling into the insurgents’ hands.
Sources said that the president was contemplating quitting as a part of an ‘urgent ceasefire’ plan that the government had tried to strike with the Taliban in exchange for bringing deadly strikes to a halt.
Sources said further that the family of the president was worried it would meet the fate of Mohammad Najibullah ultimately if it were to hang on to power until the Taliban coup was complete.
Najibullah was at the UN compound when the Taliban soldiers came for him on the evening of 26 September 1996. The Taliban abducted him from UN custody and tortured him to death, and then dragged his dead (and, according to Robert Parry, castrated body behind a truck through the streets of Kabul. His brother, Shahpur Ahmadzai, was given the same treatment. Najibullah and Shahpur’s bodies were hanged from a traffic light pole outside the Arg presidential palace the next day in order to show the public that a new era had begun.
The Taliban prevented Islamic funeral prayers for Najibullah and Shahpur in Kabul, but the bodies were later handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross who in turn sent their bodies to Gardez in Paktia Province, where both of them were buried after the Islamic funeral prayers for them by their fellow Ahmadzai tribesmen.
The Afghanistan president was said to resign during the speech, sources said, adding that the president may leave for some “third country” along with all his family members after quitting. Amrullah Saleh, the first vice president of Afghanistan, however, is not keen on the move.
“The leaders are meeting as the situation is extremely bad. The speech was recorded last night so he may have not announced his resignation. However, the president is still thinking over it and there is a possibility of him quitting,” the source said after the Afghanistan president’s speech.
The Afghanistan president today said that ‘remobilization of armed forces is the ‘top priority for the country’, and ‘fast consultations’ are ongoing to end the war. “We are going to prevent displacement of people, I’m not going to allow imposed war to lead to more bloodshed,” the Afghanistan president said.
Terrorists under the Taliban umbrella are now camped just 50 km away, with the US and other countries fearing an all-out assault on their nationals in Kabul.
Heaving fighting was also reported around Mazar-i-Sharif, an isolated holdout in the north where warlord and former vice president Abdul Rashid Dostum had gathered his virulently anti-Taliban militia.
The only other cities of any significance not to be taken yet were Jalalabad, Gardez and Khost — Pashtun-dominated and unlikely to offer much resistance now.