In an attempt to heal divisions and bring the country into a fresh period of reconciliation and rebuilding, the Taliban have again announced that they intend to create an “inclusive caretaker government”. The Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera has been told by Taliban sources that the armed group plans to bring in representatives from all regions, ethnicities, and tribal backgrounds in order to reduce the likelihood of another potentially devastating civil war in Afghanistan. The reiteration comes days after senior Taliban spokesman and negotiator Suhail Shaheen shared with media organisations his group’s commitment to establishing an all-encompassing and open government. 
Major Western countries have been drawing down their evacuation efforts from the country’s Hamid Karzai International Airport over the past two weeks. In the present moment, there only remains the chief instigator of the so-called War on Terror from two decades ago: the United States of America. The country’s President, Democrat Joe Biden, has repeatedly stated that evacuation operations will cease on August 31, with no leeway to postpone these efforts past this date. However, while being primarily concerned about terror threats around Kabul, President Biden has asked military planners to develop contingency plans in the event that a delay is required. 
The country of Afghanistan has a rich and diverse range of cultures and peoples, with no fewer than sixteen ethnolinguistic groups. Alongside Pashtuns, which make up around 48 percent of the population, the Tajiks are the second largest ethnic group, with the third biggest ethnic group being the Hazaras. Other ethnic groups found in the country include the Baloch people, the Nuristanis, Turkmens, and Uzbeks. Despite the vast number of ethnic groups, the nation is estimated to be 99 percent Muslim.  
The Taliban’s lightning quick takeover of the country over the past few weeks has rocked Western nations and neighbouring states alike. In particular, Pakistan has been wearily observing developments, as it fears another Afghan civil war could seriously destabilise the wider region; instability in Afghanistan could harm the fragile Pakistani economy through an influx of refugees and a perilous internal security situation posed by Pakistani supporters of the Taliban. There is reason to believe that the same supporters may also seek to travel into Afghanistan in order to provide operational support to the group.
Pakistan already houses the overwhelming majority of the staggering 2.6 million Afghan refugees registered abroad. Despite stating in recent days that it will accept no more Afghans, it has seen an “unprecedented” further influx of hundreds of thousands via the Spin Boldak-Chaman land border. Those who have crossed the border have been required to provide proof of residence or the urgent need of medical treatment. However, people smugglers have also been assisting other families to move across the border. 
The Guardian reported a local health official as saying:
“There has been an unprecedented rise in the numbers of Afghan people and refugees entering into Pakistan from various provinces of Afghanistan in the last two days. Today, even more people crossed into Chaman than yesterday.” 
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has been vociferous in expressing his view that the US failed in its Afghanistan venture. In an interview with veteran PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff, Khan said, “I think the US has really messed it up in Afghanistan. You see, first of all, they tried to look for a military solution in Afghanistan, when then never was one.” He further added that the time for negotiations and bargaining had effectively ceased to exist when NATO forces began withdrawing their troops from Afghanistan. 
The Pakistani leader explained his argument with the following line of reasoning:
“When there were 150,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan, that was the time to go for a political solution. But once they had reduced the troops to barely 10,000, and then, when they gave an exit date, the Taliban thought they had won. And so, therefore, it was very difficult for now to get them to compromise.” 
He further added that the only way there can be peace and stability in neighbouring Afghanistan is if there is a “political settlement that is inclusive, so they form some sort of a government that includes all sorts of different factions there”. 
While the US is set to end its evacuation efforts on Tuesday, former belligerent Russia has called on America to release all frozen Afghan central bank reserves currently held by the Federal Reserve Bank in New York. There is believed to be around 9 billion dollars in foreign reserves held in New York. Afghanistan’s economy remains heavily reliant on regular cash shipments from the US in order to maintain its short term liquidity needs and long term solvency position.
Zamir Kabulov, the Russian presidential envoy to Afghanistan, stated:
“If our western colleagues are actually worried about the fate of the Afghan people, then we must not create additional problems for them by freezing gold and foreign exchange reserves.” 
The Biden Administration stopped these critical physical cash shipments when the Taliban began repossessing vast chunks of territory earlier in August. On their way to taking over the country, the Taliban was reportedly caught unaware of the fact that such assets were held internationally. Upon securing control of the country, Taliban forces asked Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) – Afghanistan’s central bank – employees where the assets were located. 
After the Taliban expressed its desire to form an “inclusive caretaker government”, the Republic of Turkey held talks with the group. Discussions have been underway surrounding the future operations and security arrangements of Kabul’s international airport. For the past six years, the airport has been secured by Turkish forces under its NATO obligations; the Taliban have asked Turkey to alter its existing role by providing operational management at the airport whilst the Taliban take over the security sphere. 
As President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in remarks to the media:
“We have held our first talks with the Taliban, which lasted three and a half hours…If necessary, we will have the opportunity to hold such talks again.
“They [the Taliban] said: ‘We will ensure the security, you operate the airport’. We have not made any decision on this issue yet…We will make a decision once calm prevails.” 
The international community is currently engaged in multiple discussions surrounding Afghanistan’s political future. The G7 group of powers are presently meeting NATO member-states, Turkey, and Qatar in Doha for talks on the reopening of Kabul’s airport, in addition to reaching a consensus on the Taliban government that is imminently expected to be announced. 
Moreover, in New York, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is to convene a meeting with the ambassadors of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: the UK, US, France, Russia, and China. After these meetings are held, the Council is expected to pass a joint resolution on Afghanistan later this week. 
Furthermore, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has been travelling throughout the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan, in hopes of signing agreements to facilitate the temporary housing of refugees or to allow for the transit of vulnerable migrants. Currently, Qatar has acted as the transit point for over 40 percent of the 100,000-plus Afghan refugees that have been airlifted out of the country in recent weeks. 
 Richard Foltz, A History of the Tajiks: Iranians of the East, London: Bloomsbury, 2019, p. 173.
Shaheer is a regular contributor for Islam21c. He maintains a strong interest in current affairs, as well as the changing global conditions of Muslim populations. Prior to joining Islam21c, he developed a number of years’ experience in the health and social care sector and has previously volunteered at the Muslim Youth Helpline.