The Taliban urged skilled Afghans not to flee the country and asked America to stop taking “Afghan experts” such as engineers and doctors out of Kabul.
As US-led troops have ramped up operations to evacuate tens of thousands of people including many Afghans daily, Taliban are urging people to stay.
“This country needs their expertise. They should not be taken to other countries,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told a press conference in the capital Kabul.
“They should not encourage the Afghan people to flee Afghanistan.”
“They [the US and its Nato allies] have planes, they have the airport, they should get their citizens and contractors out of here,” Mujahid argued, renewing the warning on Tuesday that they would not accept an extension to the August 31 deadline set by President Biden for withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghan soil.
With France planning to end evacuations on Thursday if the US stuck to the deadline and Britain attempting to lobby for an extension at the virtual G7 summit, US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief William Burns met Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in the capital.
The Pentagon said it added a fourth US military base, in New Jersey, to three others in Virginia, Texas and Wisconsin that are prepared to temporarily house arriving Afghans.
About 21,600 people were flown out of Taliban-held Afghanistan in the 24-hour period that ended early Tuesday, the White House said. That compares with about 16,000 the previous day, while the US has evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of more than 58,000 locals and foreigners since the Taliban swept into power nine days ago.
Many Afghans fear a repeat of the brutal interpretation of Shariah law that the Taliban had implemented previously when in power from 1996 to 2001, or retribution for working with the US-backed Afghan government over the past two decades.
However, the Taliban have repeatedly claimed that they would be different this time, beginning with an amnesty for government officials and forces and then announcing protection of women’s right to education and work.
In the capital and other cities, the Taliban have enforced some sense of calm, with their fighters patrolling the streets and manning checkpoints which were abandoned by the previous administration.
The Taliban are also seeking an inclusive government and willing to negotiate with other groups and leaders despite claiming to have the capability to quash the last notable resistance to their rule in the Panjshir Valley, north of the capital. The movement, named the National Resistance Front (NRF), is led by the son of famed anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud and has recruited members of ex-government military forces.
On Tuesday, Mujahid advised female Afghan government workers to stay home until security conditions improve.
The Taliban achieved their stunning victory thanks to Biden pulling out nearly all American troops from Afghanistan, following through on a deal struck with the movement by then-president Donald Trump.
Biden redeployed thousands of troops after the fall of Kabul to oversee the airlift but faced growing pressure to negotiate more time for the evacuations.
According to the Washington Post, CIA chief Burns on Monday held a secret meeting in Kabul with Taliban co-founder Baradar though no details were reported and neither the CIA nor the Taliban confirmed it. A US official later confirmed the meeting for the AP.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told Bild TV on Tuesday that Western allies simply could not fly every Afghan who needed protection out of Kabul before the cut-off date. “Even if (the evacuation) goes on until August 31 or even a few days longer, it will not be enough,” he said.
Also, Spain declared it would not be able to rescue all Afghans who had served Spanish missions.