Taliban say they want peace, will respect women’s rights under Islamic law
The Taliban held their first official news conference in Kabul on Tuesday since the shock seizure of the city, declaring they wanted peaceful relations with other countries and would respect the rights of women within the framework of Islamic law.
“We don’t want any internal or external enemies,” the movement’s main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said.
Key points from Taliban’s first press conference
We seek no revenge and “everyone is forgiven”
We will honour women’s rights but within the norms of Islamic law
We want private media to remain independent but the media should not work against national interests
Afghanistan will not allow itself to harbour anyone targeting other nations
Afghanistan will be a narcotics-free country
Mujahid, who until now had been a shadowy figure issuing statements on behalf of the militants, said women would be allowed to work and study and “will be very active in society but within the framework of Islam”.
The Taliban would not seek retribution against former soldiers and members of the Western-backed government, he said, insisting that “everyone is forgiven.” He added that the movement was granting an amnesty for former Afghan government soldiers as well as contractors and translators who worked for international forces.
“Nobody is going to harm you, nobody is going to knock on your doors,” he said.
Mujahid stressed that Afghanistan would not allow itself to harbour anyone targeting other nations. That was a key demand in a deal the militants struck with the Trump administration in 2020 that led to the ultimate US withdrawal under current President Joe Biden.
He said private media could continue to be free and independent in Afghanistan, adding the Taliban were committed to the media within its cultural framework.
Mujahid’s conciliatory tone contrasted sharply with comments by Afghan First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who declared himself the “legitimate caretaker president” and vowed that he would not bow to Kabul’s new rulers.
The Taliban news conference came as the United States and Western allies evacuated diplomats and civilians a day after scenes of chaos at Kabul airport as Afghans desperate to flee the Taliban thronged to the terminal.
As they rush to evacuate diplomats and civilians from Afghanistan, foreign powers are assessing how to respond to the changed situation on the ground.
Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Taliban should allow all those who wanted to leave the country to depart, adding that Nato’s aim was to help build a viable state in Afghanistan.
There has been widespread criticism of the US withdrawal amid the chaotic scenes at Kabul airport.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said “the images of despair at Kabul airport shame the political West.”
Under last year’s US troop withdrawal pact, the Taliban agreed not to attack foreign forces as they leave.
Many Afghans have expressed the fear that the Taliban will return the country the brutal rule they used when last in charge, and foreign officials have said they will wait to see if the insurgents make good on their promises.
More to follow.