Turkey helps senior Afghan officials leave country
Toygun Atilla- ISTANBUL
Turkey helped a number of senior former Afghan government officials leave the country after the capital Kabul fell to the Taliban.
As the turmoil gripped the country, Ankara made arrangements to repatriate Turkish citizens from Afghanistan.
As part of those plans, a plane belonging to Turkish Airlines was dispatched to Kabul to airlift Turkish citizens.
The plane with 324 passengers on board finally departed from Hamid Karzai International Airport and landed at Istanbul Airport on Aug. 16.
Among the passengers were also the Afghan Second Vice President Sarwar Danish, Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar, Ahmad Zia Sraj, the head of the National Directorate of Security, and other senior figures, including three former ministers and lawmakers.
The Turkish Embassy in Kabul already had evacuation plans ready well before the Taliban forces seized the capital and contacted Turkish expatriates and Afghan officials, who have close ties with Turkey, and informed them about the plans.
As the Taliban entered Kabul, the Turkish embassy contacted the Turkish citizens and the Afghan officials to tell them the evacuation operation was underway.
Turkish citizens and the Afghan officials headed to the airport to board the Turkish Airlines plane, which was waiting on the tarmac.
As a large crowd started to run towards the plane, Turkish soldiers stationed at the airport intervened and stopped the crowd and helped Turkish citizens and Afghan officials board the plane.
Hours later they arrived safely in Turkey.
“We are grateful to Turkey for what it has done for us. Maybe the Taliban would not initially throw us into jail but we would be put under surveillance at our homes. We would be insulted,” First Vice Chairman of High Council for National Reconciliation Enayatullah Babur Farahman said, noting that some 40 former Afghan officials arrived in Turkey.