Afghan Taliban to regard Pakistan as a brother if in power, says spokesperson


–Rules out Pakistan’s involvement in talks, says talks are Taliban’s own initiative

–Says Afghanistan will have a Shariah-compliant constitution

–Says Taliban would not allow anyone to harm others from Afghan soil

Afghan Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid has said that they would regard Pakistan as a “brother and neighbour” and seek ties based on mutual respect if they ever rose to power in Afghanistan.

Speaking to a local news outlet, the Taliban spokesperson said that during the Soviet invasion, Pakistan was the most important hub for the refugees fleeing Afghanistan and most of them considered Pakistan as a second home.

Speaking about the ongoing talks with the United States, Mujahid said that they are holding the talks with the US on their own initiative. He said that even before the US invasion of Afghanistan, they had asked Washington to engage in dialogue instead of a war. He also said that the Taliban had opened a political office in Doha in 2013 but the US had been unwilling to enter into talks with them. Since the US has now agreed to the talks, we have decided to engage with them, he added.

The spokesperson denied Pakistan’s role in bringing the Taliban to the negotiation table. He said that no outside country is playing any role and the idea of engaging in talks has always been the Taliban’s own initiative and policy.

He also outlined a vision for the future Afghan political system. He said that all ethnicities would be represented in the government and all will serve and look after the country’s affairs without any arguments. However, he declined to elaborate “before the right time”.

Speaking about the objectives of the Taliban, he said that while they do not have any specific manifesto, their objectives have been always been clear. They want an end to Afghan occupation, the establishment of an Islamic government, reconstruction of the country and the provision of administrative services and the establishment of peace and security in Afghanistan.

Denying the current constitution of Afghanistan, he said that it was draft under “American occupation and interests”, adding that since the Afghan population is 100 per cent Muslim, the constitution should be in line with the teachings of Islamic law. For this purpose, scholars will be gathered and required changes will be made in the constitution to make it Shariah compliant, he added.

In a reference to the concerns raised by women who fear a return to the restrictions imposed on them 20 years ago when the Taliban were in power, he said that in the past “we were in the very early stages of forming our political ideology” and the problems that did exist were because of the measures that were the need of that time given the preceding war and the corruption that existed in the society. He said that now things were different and the intellectual capacity of the people has expanded, therefore, there would not be a problem in affording men and women their rights.

In response to a question about the ongoing attacks in Afghanistan, he said that the talks are still in process and no conclusion has been reached. “We are forced to wage war. Our enemies are attacking us, therefore, we are also combating them,” he added. He further said that as long as Afghanistan remains under occupation, talks would not amount to much, therefore, in order to resolve internal issues, it is necessary to put an end to the occupation.

Mujahid also explained the Taliban’s stance of refusing to hold talks with the incumbent Afghan government, saying that holding talks with the Kabul government would imply acceptance of its legitimacy while “it was imposed upon us by aircraft and the bombing of invaders”. In light of a total refusal to accept an imposed government, all agreements achieved between us and the Afghan people will be binding, he added.

He also denied the notion that negotiations between two opposing powers would amount to a partnership, rather it would only help achieve a mutual resolution outstanding issues and the reestablishment of peace and stability in the country. He said that

Responding to a question about Taliban’s support and protection to Al Qaeda leaders some 20 years ago which ultimately led to US invasion of Afghanistan, he said that the Taliban had only sheltered those foreign Mujahideen who arrived during the period of jihad against the Soviet Union and had continued to stay in Afghanistan. He said that protecting them was a religious and cultural necessity. However, he added, no one needed the Taliban’s protection now and they would not allow anyone to harm others from Afghan soil.

Speaking about the formation of an interim government in Afghanistan, he said that there have been no discussions on this matter nor have they proposed any such idea.