Conflicts & War

Taliban says will not seek revenge, protect women’s rights within Islamic law

(Update 1: Adds detail of Taliban press conference, arrival of senior official)

Kabul, Aug 17 (EFE).- The new Taliban leadership that swept to power in Afghanistan has said it would not seek revenge against those who had fought against it and would protect the rights of Afghan women within the rules of Sharia law.

Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told a Kabul press conference that the Taliban would not “go after” Afghans who had worked for the United States and had pardoned “all those who have fought against us.”

He said women in Afghanistan would be safe and have the freedom to be involved in society “within the framework of Sharia Law,” which the Taliban adheres to and has previously implemented in areas of the country under its control.

Mujahid added the Taliban would work to avoid any return to conflict or for Afghanistan to become a hub for terrorism that would threaten other countries in the region.

The press conference, which involved members of the international media, came as the head of the Taliban’s political wing Mullah Baradar Akhund returned to Afghanistan from Qatar as the conservative Islamist group embarks on its early days of governance in the country following its swift rise to power after the US rapidly withdrew most of its forces.

It was the first time that the Taliban’s senior political leadership officially traveled to Afghanistan since the previous regime was toppled by the US led invasion in 2001.

Throughout Tuesday, the atmosphere in the Afghan capital Kabul slowly returned to normal, replacing the eerie silence that engulfed the otherwise noisy city on the second day of Taliban.

Traffic moved on Kabul’s streets as daily life started resuming two days after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

Hospitals and healthcare centers opened as traffic officers were seen on the streets managing traffic on the busy Kabul roads.

In his press conference, Mujahid said that the Taliban had originally planned to remain at the city gates, but had moved in to thwart the threat of riots.

Local media and journalists reported that the insurgents were conducting house searches and frisking people on the roadside.

Taliban commander Sayyid Mawlawi Muhammad Yaqoub said the group had asked its fighters not to enter any house or confiscate government properties.

The Taliban released videos that showed a leader addressing a hospital staff, including women, and urging them to return to their jobs.

The insurgents assured that they had guaranteed the security of diplomatic and humanitarian missions in the country.

TV channel Tolo News showed a female presenter, her head covered with a hijab, interviewing a Taliban leader.

Channel head Miraqa Popal also tweeted screen grabs of the program, showing Beheshta Arghand “interviewing a Taliban media team member (Mawlawi Abdulhaq Hemad) live in our studio.”

Having a woman host a TV show was unimaginable during the previous Taliban rule between 1996 and 2001 when the Islamists banned females from working.

Meanwhile, flights from Kabul international airport resumed Tuesday after security forces drove people away who had gathered trying to escape the war-ravaged country in chaotic scenes a day earlier.

The military side of the airport is under the control of US forces.

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