The United States says it will continue to offer help to Americans, Afghans at risk and other nationals in the Taliban-torn country beyond August 31, 2021.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated this at a press briefing on Wednesday.
He noted that roughly 1,000 Americans are still in Afghanistan and must be evacuated.
Blinken sounded a warning to the hardline Islamist group that the evacuation of Americans and its allies in Afghanistan was important.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, had warned that the group would not accept any extension of the August 31 deadline for evacuations by the US, saying skilled workers were being evacuated.
“We ask them to stop this process. This country needs their expertise. They should not be taken to other countries,” Mujahid had said.
Speaking on Wednesday, Blinken said, “Evacuating Americans is our top priority, we are also committed to evacuating as many Afghans at risk as possible before August 31 and this includes our locally employed staff and those in our embassy and our diplomatic team.
“We are taking every precaution but this is very high risk.
“As the President (Joe Biden) said yesterday (Tuesday), we are on track to complete our mission by August 31st provided the Taliban continue to cooperate and there are no disruptions.
“Let me be crystal-clear about this, there is no deadline on our work to help any remaining citizens who want to leave along with many Afghans who have stayed by our sides all these years.
“That efforts will continue every day past August 31.
“The Taliban have made public and private commitment to provide safe passage to Americans, other nationals and Afghans at risk past August 31
“People who want to leave Afghanistan after the US military depart should be able to do so beyond August 31.”
The Taliban or the Mujahedeen retook Kabul, the country’s capital city, about two decades after the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan beginning in early July.
Afghanistan civilian President Ashraf Ghani subsequently fled the country when Kabul fell, abandoning the presidential palace to Taliban fighters.
Ghani, 72, who is now in exile in the United Arab Emirates, said he planned to return to the Asian country after talks with the Taliban.
Formed in 1994, the Taliban were made up of ex-Afghan resistance fighters who first captured Kabul in 1996. The Sunni Islamist organisation introduced radical rules against women and children. They were also notorious for their extremist and terrorist ideologies and have been fingered in sponsoring insurgency in several parts of the world, including Africa.
The Taliban held strong control of Afghanistan till September 11, 2001, when 19 extremist fighters hijacked four commercial planes in the US, crashing two into the World Trade Center towers, amongst other places, and killing over 2,500 people were killed in the attacks.
The attacks were orchestrated by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
The United States under the then government of President George Bush had stormed the landlocked Asian country with over 39 million people, dislodged the terrorists and killed Osama bin Laden.
The dislodgement of the Taliban and the presence of American troops had paved the way for democratic takeover enjoyed by Ghani and his predecessor, Hamid Karzai, but Biden insisted on the withdrawal of US forces in July, adding that US soldiers can’t be fighting a war that Afghan troops are not willing to fight themselves.
“Our mission was never supposed to be nation-building,” Biden had said, noting that US mission was to kill 9/11 attackers.