Afghanistan Independence Day: Afghans waving their national flag defying Taliban takeover Against US
Afghan protesters have defied the Taliban for a second day, waving their national flag in scattered demonstrations. The demonstrations, which come as Afghans celebrated Independence Day and some commemorated Ashoura festival, were a remarkable show of defiance. The Taliban fighters again responded violently as they faced down growing challenges to their rule.
The Taliban on Thursday celebrated Afghanistan's Independence Day to mark the country's freedom from "the arrogant power of the world", referring to the United States.
“Fortunately, today we are celebrating the anniversary of independence from Britain," the Taliban said, adding, "We at the same time as a result of our jihadi resistance forced another arrogant power of the world, the United States, to fail and retreat from our holy territory of Afghanistan," reports AP.
Afghan Independence Day on August 19 commemorates the Anglo-Afghan Treaty of 1919 that ended British rule in the central Asian nation.
However, various challenges from ruling a frozen government to fighting potential armed opposition have already started to emerge.
With ATMS running out of cash and a severe food crisis engulfing 38 million people across the country, the Taliban is likely to face the challenges of the dethroned government without the international aid the former enjoyed.
“A humanitarian crisis of incredible proportions is unfolding before our eyes,” warned Mary Ellen McGroarty, the head of the World Food Program in Afghanistan, reports AP.
Meanwhile, a drought has damaged over 40 per cent of the country's crop, McGroarty said.
In fear, hundreds of people have fled Taliban rule, taking resorts in parks and open spaces in Kabul.
The Taliban have so far not come up with any plans for their government. They have stuck to their earlier statements of the government following Shariah or Islamic laws. However, there's mounting pressure on them now.
Meanwhile, opposition figures fleeing to Afghanistan's Panjshir Valley now talk of launching an armed resistance under the banner of the Northern Alliance, which allied with the U.S. during the 2001 invasion, reports AP.
While urging people to return to work, most government officials remain hiding in their homes or attempting to flee the Taliban. Questions remain over Afghanistan's $9 billion foreign reserves, the vast majority now apparently frozen in the U.S. The country's Central Bank head warns the country's supply of physical U.S. dollars is “close to zero," which will see inflation raise the prices of needed food while depreciating its currency, the afghani.
“This is really Afghanistan's hour of greatest need, and we urge the international community to stand by the Afghan people at this time,” McGroarty said to AP.
Two of Afghanistan's key border crossings with Pakistan, Torkham near Jalalabad and Chaman near Spin Boldak, are now open for cross-border trade. Hundreds of trucks have passed through, Pakistan's interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has said. However, traders still fear insecurity on the roads, confusion over customs duties and pressures to price their goods even higher given the economic conditions.
There has been no armed opposition to the Taliban. But videos from the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul, a stronghold of the Northern Alliance militias that allied with the U.S. during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, appear to show potential opposition figures gathering there. That area is in the only province that has not fallen to the Taliban.
Those figures include members of the deposed government — Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who asserted on Twitter that he is the country's rightful president, and Defense Minister Gen. Bismillah Mohammadi — as well as Ahmad Massoud, the son of the slain Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud.