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Coronavirus
LOW Source: covid.gov.pk
Pakistan Deaths
28,745
824hr
Pakistan Cases
1,285,631
37724hr
0.85% positivity
Sindh
476,017
Punjab
443,240
Balochistan
33,488
Islamabad
107,765
KPK
180,146

KABUL: Afghanistan's new Taliban rulers said on Tuesday they wanted all foreign evacuations from the country completed by Aug. 31 and would not agree to an extension as Group of Seven (G7) leaders met to tackle the crisis.

President Joe Biden has accepted a Pentagon recommendation to remove U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of this month, but the decision is contingent on whether the Taliban cooperates in helping the United States complete evacuations, three U.S. officials told Reuters on Tuesday.

The hardline Islamist group also sought to assure the thousands of Afghans crowded into Kabul airport in the hope of boarding flights to escape feared reprisals from the Taliban that they had nothing to fear and should go home.

"We guarantee their security," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told a news conference in the capital, which Taliban fighters seized on Aug. 15 from the Western-backed government after two decades of war.

16,000 evacuated from Kabul airport in past 24 hours: Pentagon

As he spoke, Western troops were working frantically to get more foreigners and Afghans onto planes and out of the country, with Biden facing growing pressure from allies to negotiate more time for the airlift.

U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said she had received credible reports of "summary executions" of civilians and Afghan security forces who had surrendered.

G7 COMMITMENT TO AFGHANISTAN

Leaders of the G7 major industrialized nations - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States - met virtually to discuss how to complete the chaotic withdrawal and deal with the Taliban now that they have seized power.

They said they would remain committed to Afghanistan and back the United Nations in coordinating immediate humanitarian help in the region, which faces a new influx of refugees. The talks did not result "in new dates" for the end of the evacuation mission, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, though there were intensive discussions on whether a civilian-operated airport in Kabul could be used after Aug. 31. CIA Director William Burns met Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul on Monday, two U.S. sources told Reuters.

The Taliban's Mujahid said he was not aware if Baradar had met the CIA chief. But he said the group had not agreed to an extension of the deadline and it wanted all foreign evacuations to be completed by Aug. 31.

Biden vows 'devastating' response if Taliban attack US interests

He also called on the United States not to encourage Afghan people to leave their homeland and urged foreign embassies not to close or stop work.

"We have assured them of security," he said.

Countries that have evacuated nearly 60,000 people over the past 10 days were trying to meet the deadline agreed earlier with the Taliban for the withdrawal of foreign forces, a NATO diplomat told Reuters.

"Every foreign force member is working at a war-footing pace to meet the deadline," said the official, who declined to be identified. Biden, who has said U.S. troops might stay beyond the deadline, has warned the evacuation was going to be "hard and painful" and much could still go wrong.

RED LINE

The hurried evacuation operation kicked off after the Taliban swept into Kabul on Aug. 15 and the U.S.-backed government collapsed as the United States and its allies withdrew troops after a 20-year presence.

The militant group was ousted from power by U.S.-led forces in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States by al Qaeda militants whose leaders had found safe haven in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

US ramps up Afghan evacuations after Taliban warn of 'red line'

Leaders of the Taliban, who have sought to show https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/taliban-seek-present-moderate-face-they-take-control-afghanistan-2021-08-15 a more moderate face since capturing Kabul, have begun talks on forming a government that have included discussions with some old enemies, including former president Hamid Karzai. It appointed a former Guantanamo detainee, Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir, as acting defence minister, the Qatari-based Al Jazeera news channel said, citing a source in the Islamist movement.

Many Afghans fear reprisals and a return to a harsh version of sharia (Islamic law) that the Taliban enforced when in power from 1996 to 2001, in particular the repression of women.

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