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Taliban co-founder Baradar in Kabul for talks on new Afghan government

Taliban co-founder Baradar in Kabul for talks on new Afghan government

Taliban co-founder Baradar in Kabul for talks on new Afghan government

Within hours of his return, the Taliban announces that its rule would be "different" this time and an official says the Taliban will be accountable for its actions and will investigate reports of reprisals and atrocities.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban's deputy leader and negotiator, and other delegation members attend the Afghan peace conference in Moscow, Russia March 18, 2021.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban's deputy leader and negotiator, and other delegation members attend the Afghan peace conference in Moscow, Russia March 18, 2021. (Reuters Archive)

The Taliban's co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar has arrived in Kabul for talks with fellow members of the group and other politicians on establishing a new Afghan government.

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"He will be in Kabul to meet jihadi leaders and politicians for an inclusive government set-up," a senior Taliban official told AFP on Saturday.

Arrested in Pakistan in 2010, Baradar was kept in custody until pressure from the United States saw him freed in 2018 and relocated to Qatar.

He was appointed head of the Taliban's political office in Doha, where he oversaw the signing of the foreign forces' withdrawal agreement with the Americans.

Baradar arrived in Afghanistan on Tuesday from Qatar, choosing to touch down in the country's second biggest city Kandahar – the Taliban's spiritual birthplace.

Within hours of his return the group announced its rule would be "different" this time

Accountability?

The Taliban will be accountable for its actions and will investigate reports of reprisals and atrocities carried out by members, an official of the group told Reuters on Saturday.

Since they took over the country, individual Afghans and international aid and advocacy groups have reported harsh retaliation against protests, and roundups of those who formerly held government positions, criticised the Taliban or worked with Americans.

"We have heard of some cases of atrocities and crimes against civilians," the official said. "If Talibs (members) are doing these law and order problems, they will be investigated."

He added, "We can understand the panic, stress and anxiety. People think we will not be accountable, but that will not be the case."

Former officials told harrowing tales of hiding from the Taliban in recent days as gunmen went from door to door. One family of 16 described running to the bathroom, lights off and children's mouths covered, in fear for their lives .

The new framework for governing the country would not be a democracy by Western definition, but "It will protect everyone's rights," the official added

"Legal, religious and foreign policy experts in the Taliban aim to present the new governing framework in the next few weeks," he said.

Chaos at airport

The chaos at Kabul airport, besieged by thousands of people desperate to flee, was not the responsibility of the Taliban, he added. "The West could have had a better plan to evacuate."

Gun-toting Taliban members around the airport have urged those without travel documents to go home. At least 12 people have been killed in and around the airport since Sunday, NATO and Taliban officials said.

A NATO official told Reuters on Saturday that about 12,000 foreigners and Afghans working for embassies and international aid groups have been evacuated from Kabul airport since Taliban insurgents entered the capital.

"The evacuation process is slow, as it is risky, for we don't want any form of clashes with Taliban members or civilians outside the airport," said the official, who sought anonymity.

"We don't want to start a blame game regarding the evacuation plan."

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