The Taliban will not be allowing the evacuation of Afghans anymore and has warned that the United States must stick to next week’s deadline to pull out. The statement by Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid came during a press conference on Tuesday, wherein he said while foreign nationals could continue traveling to the airport, the huge crowds of Afghans that have gathered there in recent days should return home and would not face reprisals from the country’s new rulers.
“The road, which goes to the airport, is blocked. Afghans cannot take that road to go to the airport, but foreign nationals are allowed to take that road to the airport,” Mujahid said.
“We are not allowing the evacuation of Afghans anymore and we are not happy with it either,” he added.
The doctors and academics of Afghanistan “should not leave this country, they should work in their own specialist areas,” Mujahid added.
“They should not go to other countries, to those Western countries.”
The development comes after US President Joe Biden declared that he is sticking to his August 31 deadline for completing a risky airlift of Americans, endangered Afghans and others seeking to escape Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
The decision defies allied leaders who want to give the evacuation more time and opens Biden to criticism that he caved to Taliban deadline demands.
“Every day we’re on the ground is another day that we know ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both us and allied forces and innocent civilians,” Biden said at the White House on Tuesday, referring to the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate, which is known for staging suicide attacks on civilians.
He said the Taliban are cooperating and security is holding despite a number of violent incidents.
“But it’s a tenuous situation,” he said, adding, “We run a serious risk of it breaking down as time goes on.”
The US in recent days has ramped up its airlift amid new reports of rights abuses that fuel concern about the fate of thousands of people who fear retribution from the Taliban and are trying to flee the country.
The Pentagon said 21,600 people had been evacuated in the 24 hours that ended Tuesday morning, and Biden said an additional 12,000 had been flown out in the 12 hours that followed.
Those include flights operated by the US military as well as other charter flights.