Afghan soil not to be used against others

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Taliban says full protection to foreigners; all foreign missions to be guarded; women will have full rights within Shariah law; West should not be worried; media will have freedom but nothing against Islamic values

News Desk

KABUL: 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.

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 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.

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.