Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid held his first press conference Tuesday and struck a dovish tone as the group seeks to tamp fears of a civil war. Earlier in the day, the Taliban declared a “general amnesty” for government workers, and Mujahid said the group did not want to fight anymore.
“We have pardoned anyone, all those who had fought against us. We don’t want to repeat any conflict anymore again. We want to do away with the factors for conflict. Therefore, the Islamic Emirate does not have any kind of hostility or animosity with anybody; animosities have come to an end and we would like to live peacefully,” Mujahid said.
Taliban leaders are currently involved in discussions in Doha, Qatar, on the structures of a new government. Mujahid said an announcement will be made soon and vowed that the Taliban seek an “inclusive” government. “I would like to assure that after consultations that are going to be completed very soon, we will be witnessing the formation of a strong Islamic and inclusive government,” he said.
One of the biggest criticisms of previous Taliban rule from the West is over the group’s repression of women. From 1996 to 2001, the Taliban imposed a strict version of Sharia law, and women were banned from working and attending school. Mujahid suggested the rules concerning women under the new government will not be as strict.
“The Islamic Emirate is committed to the rights of women within the framework of Sharia. Our sisters, our men have the same rights; they will be able to benefit from their rights. They can have activities in different sectors and different areas on the basis of our rules and regulations: educational, health and other areas. They are going to be working with us, shoulder to shoulder with us,” he said. “Our women are Muslim. They will also be happy to be living within our frameworks of Sharia.”
Mujahid also vowed that the Taliban would not allow Afghanistan to be used as a base for attacks on other countries. “I would like to assure our neighbors, regional countries, we are not going to allow our territory to be used against anybody, any country in the world. So the whole global community should be assured that we are committed to these pledges that you will not be harmed in any way from our soil,” he said.
Only time will tell if the Taliban lives up to the promises made by Mujahid. At this point, it’s in the Taliban’s interest to maintain calm while the US is still evacuating personnel and Afghan allies from the Kabul airport. The Pentagon said Tuesday that there are currently 4,000 US troops at the airport. On Monday, President Biden said once the evacuation mission is over, the US will complete its “military withdrawal” from Afghanistan.