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All people in Kabul can resume normal life, says Taliban spokesman

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KARACHI: The Afghan Taliban on Sunday assured the people, foreign missions, staff as well as those who worked in the Kabul administration and foreign forces that their life and property are safe and they could resume their normal activities, as the Taliban await a peaceful transfer of power to form an Afghan inclusive Islamic government.

In a live interview with BBC, Taliban spokesman Mohammad Suhail Shaheen said: “There should not be any confusion in Kabul. We assure the people, particularly in the city of Kabul, that their properties, their lives are safe. There will be no revenge on anyone. We are the servants of the people and of this country. Our leadership has instructed our forces to remain at the gate of Kabul, not to enter the city. We are awaiting a peaceful transfer of power.”

“Taliban did not enter Kabul, because we want to avoid bloodshed, destruction, not to give a chance to plunderers and looters,” he said, adding that the forces were instructed to stay at the gates of Kabul. “We took this decision for the safety of people. People should not leave Kabul. We assure them that there would be no harm to them. Of course, we can’t force those who want to leave.”

Says they want to open a new chapter of peace, tolerance, peaceful coexistence

Asked if the Taliban will provide safe passage to those seeking to leave Afghanistan, he said: “Our policy is no one should leave the country, because it is the country of all. We need all talents and capacity. Because when we close this chapter, and [open] another chapter of reconstruction, peace, tolerance, peaceful existence, national unity, we want all Afghans to stay and participate in the country’s reconstruction and serve their people.

He rejected the rumours that Mullah Baradar had left Doha for Kabul. He said: “Mullah Baradar is here and also all the other members of negotiation team are in Doha. We have not been officially informed about the arrival of the other negotiation team… It depends on how things will proceed. If there is need, Mullah Baradar will go to Kabul.”

Asked if the Taliban were prepared to work with General Mohammad Dostum or any other Afghan leader, Mr Shaheen said the Taliban were prepared to “work with any Afghan because we want to open a new chapter of peace, tolerance, peaceful coexistence.”

In reply to a question, he said: “In next few days, we want a peaceful transfer of power. Secondly, people will resume their normal activities. Thirdly, there’s no revenge on all those working in the Kabul administration or foreign forces. Also we want all embassies to continue their work. There will be no risk to diplomats, NGOs or to anyone. All should continue their work as they were doing in the past.”

About the evacuation of the Americans and British staff working in Afghanistan, he said: “We won’t haunt them. They should remain [in the country].”

About their future relationship with the United States, the Taliban spokesman said: “Our relationship in the past was that we were fighting against their occupation. In future, it will be a new chapter of cooperation. The more they participate in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and help the people of Afghanistan and this country, the more our relations will strengthen and improve. We want good relations with the US.”

In the wide-ranging interview, the Taliban spokesman discussed women rights, media freedom, moral policing, courts and relations with other Afghans.

About the freedom of the press, he said: “It is very important that in Islamic government, there will be free media to criticise anyone, but they should avoid our character assassination. It is necessary for society to have freedom of speech in the light of Islamic laws. That’s what we want.”

Published in Dawn, August 16h, 2021

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