By Mohammad Yunus Yawar
KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan’s Taliban marked the first anniversary of the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces on Wednesday by calling on the international community to “learn” from the experience and accept them as the legitimate government.
The withdrawal, completed a minute before midnight on Aug. 30, 2021, came as the Taliban swept to power after a 20-year insurgency against U.S.-led forces who invaded Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
“The experience of the past 20 years can be a good guide… Any kind of pressure and threats on Afghanistan’s people in the last 20 years has failed and just increased the crisis,” the Taliban said in a statement.
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – the name the Taliban give their government – is the “legitimate government of the country and the representative of the brave Afghan nation”, the statement said.
No country has recognised the Taliban, who took over Afghanistan with a speed and ease that took the world by surprise, following which President Ashraf Ghani fled the country and his government collapsed.
U.S. led forces left two weeks later in chaos.
The Taliban statement called on the international community to allow Afghans to have an independent Islamic government that has a “positive interaction with the world”.
The international community has pressed the Taliban on human rights, particularly those of girls and women whose access to school and work has been limited. It has also urged the Taliban to stopping harassing critics, activists and journalists.
The Taliban say they are discussing the matter of girls’ education and deny cracking down on dissent.
Fireworks lit up the Kabul sky on Tuesday night on the first anniversary of the withdrawal of foreign troops which the Taliban are marking as “Freedom Day”.
Wednesday was also a public holiday, with small celebrations across Kabul including parades by Taliban forces.
(Writing by Gibran Peshimam; Editing by Nick Macfie)