ANKARA – The Taliban did not expect to achieve its goals in Afghanistan so quickly, the head of the group’s political bureau in Qatar said Sunday.
"I must say that I did not expect that we would achieve such a success so quickly and so easily," Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said of the Taliban's dominance over the whole of Afghanistan, especially the capital Kabul.
"We must not be arrogant. We'll have a heavy responsibility that we've never had before,” he said.
“Currently, we are passing through a very important test in terms of the delivery of services, safety and improvement of living conditions of the people of our country. We need to convince people how to protect their lives and their future,” he stressed.
Mohammad Naim, a spokesperson for the Taliban's political office in Qatar, also noted that there is no danger to embassies, diplomatic missions and foreign nationals in Kabul, stressing that the Taliban will maintain security throughout the country.
The development comes after the Taliban made rapid military advances, taking control of the country as Afghan government forces fled or surrendered.
The Taliban took over control of the presidential palace in Kabul on Sunday, according to Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid.
This came following an eventful day which saw minute-to-minute developments, including the Taliban's entering the besieged capital and the departure of embattled President Ashraf Ghani along with his close aides.
Ghani, who was dubbed “the former president” by the head of Afghanistan's National Reconciliation Council, Abdullah Abdullah, in a video message, left the country.
"He [Ghani] left Afghanistan in a hard time. God holds him accountable,” Abdullah said in the message using the Persian language.
Following the departure of Ghani, former President Hamid Karzai, veteran politicians Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Abdullah formed a council with the aim of ensuring a smooth transfer of power.
Defending his decision, Ghani said in a message that he had left Kabul in order to avoid bloodshed.
Mujahid said the Taliban will not accept any transitional setup. Instead, he added, the group wants an immediate transition of power.
A delegation of the Taliban's military commission is present at the presidential palace to negotiate the transfer of power, he told ABC News.
The Taliban’s consultative council has already announced a general amnesty for Afghan forces and government officials in the case of an unconditional surrender.
US forces’ helicopters were seen conducting back and forth flights between the American Embassy and Kabul airport to evacuate US diplomats.
"Kabul looks like a ghost city as I speak. All shops, markets and restaurants are closed. Roads and streets wear a deserted look," Anis Khan, a Kabul-based journalist, told local broadcaster Geo News.
"The city is in the grip of fear and confusion," Khan added.
‘Exercise utmost restraint’
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the Taliban and other parties in Afghanistan to exercise the "utmost restraint" after the group laid claim to the presidential palace.
Guterres "is following with deep concern the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan" with hundreds of thousands of people forced to flee their homes, his office said in a statement.
"He urges the Taliban and all other parties to exercise utmost restraint in order to protect lives and ensure that humanitarian needs can be addressed," it said.
"The Secretary-General is particularly concerned about the future of women and girls, whose hard-won rights must be protected. All abuses must stop. He calls on the Taliban and all other parties to ensure that international humanitarian law and the rights and freedoms of all people are respected and protected," it added.
Guterres will address the Security Council on Monday when it holds an emergency session on the situation in Afghanistan. (Anadolu)