Taliban government says they have no problem with US: NPR

Amir Khan Muttaqi, foreign minister in the new Taliban-run Cabinet, speaks at a news conference in September 2021 in Kabul.

Muhammad Farooq / AP

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Muhammad Farooq / AP

Amir Khan Muttaqi, foreign minister in the new Taliban-run Cabinet, speaks at a news conference in September 2021 in Kabul.

Muhammad Farooq / AP

KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers are committed to the principle of education and employment for girls and women, a marked departure from their previous rule, and seek The world’s “mercy and compassion” for help millions of Afghans in need, a top Taliban leader said in a rare interview.

Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi also told the Associated Press that the Taliban government wants to have good relations with all countries and has no problem with the United States. He called on Washington and other countries to free up to $10 billion frozen when the Taliban took power on August 15, following a rapid military sweep across Afghanistan and an illegal secret flight. President Ashraf Ghani’s suspicions are backed by the US.

“Sanctions on Afghanistan will … not have any benefit,” Muttaqi said Sunday, speaking in his native Pashto during an interview at the pale-brick Foreign Ministry building. located in the center of the Afghan capital, Kabul.

“Making Afghanistan destabilized or having a weak government is not the point,” said Muttaqi, whose aides include staff from the previous government as well as those recruited from the ranks of the Taliban. interests of anyone.

Muttaqi acknowledges the world’s outrage at the Taliban imposed by the Taliban restrictions on education for girls and for women in the workforce. In many parts of Afghanistan, girls in grades 7 through 12 have not been allowed to go to school since the Taliban took power, and many female civil servants are required to stay home. Taliban officials say they need time to create sexist arrangements in schools and workplaces that meet their strict understanding of Islam.

When the Taliban first took power from 1996-2001, the Taliban shocked the world by banning girls and women from schools and jobs, banning most recreational and sporting activities and sometimes carrying out mass murders. executed in front of large crowds in sports stadiums.

But Muttaqi said the Taliban had changed since they were last in power.

“We have made a lot of progress in administration and politics … in our interactions with the country and the world,” he said. With each passing day we will gain more experience and progress.

Muttaqi says that under the new Taliban government, girls are going to school up to the 12th grade in 10 of the country’s 34 provinces, private schools and universities are operating unhindered, and 100% of women have working in the medical industry has returned to Work. “This shows that we are committed in principle to women’s participation,” he said.

He claimed that the Taliban did not target their opponents, instead declaring a general amnesty and providing some protections. The leaders of the previous government, he said, live unaffected in Kabul, although most have fled.

Last month, International Human Rights Watch released a report that said the Taliban had killed or forcibly disappeared more than 100 former police and intelligence officials in four provinces. However, there have been no reports of large-scale retribution.

Muttaqi accused the Afghan government of taking power after the US-led coalition that toppled the Taliban regime in 2001 carried out widespread revenge attacks against the Taliban. Hundreds of people are missing or dead, he said, causing thousands to flee to the mountains. The Taliban was overthrown for harboring al Qaida and Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US

Muttaqi claims poverty and dreams of a better life – fearless – prompted thousands of Afghans to flock to Kabul airport in mid-August in the hope of reaching the US. The human heart has created stinging images of men clinging to a departing American C-17 plane, while others fall to the ground as the wheels retract.

He said the Taliban made mistakes in their first months in power and “we will work for more reforms that can benefit the nation.” He did not elaborate on possible mistakes or reforms.

Muttaqi rejected comments by US Marine General Frank McKenzie, who told the AP last week that the extremist group al-Qaida has grown slightly inside Afghanistan since US forces left at the end of August. McKenzie is Washington’s top military commander in the Middle East.

In a February 2020 agreement outlining the terms of a US troop withdrawal, the Taliban promised to fight terrorism and deny terrorist groups a safe haven.

Muttaqi said Sunday that the Taliban had kept that promise, along with a pledge not to attack US and NATO forces during the final phase of the withdrawal that ends at the end of August.

“Unfortunately, there have always been (always) allegations against the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, but no evidence,” Muttaqi said. “If McKenzie has any evidence, he should provide it. With confidence, I can say that this is a baseless allegation.”

Meanwhile, Islamic State fighters have stepped up attacks against Taliban patrols and religious minorities over the past four months. The IS branch in Afghanistan has targeted Shiite mosques in the provincial capitals of Kunduz and Kandahar, and has carried out regular attacks on Taliban vehicles.

However, Muttaqi said the Taliban had gained the upper hand in recent weeks, adding that there had not been a single major attack in the last month. Washington’s ability to monitor IS activities in Afghanistan has been limited since the military’s withdrawal.

Muttaqi said he does not envision working with the US in the fight against Islamic State.

However, he expressed hope that over time, “the US will slowly, slowly change its policy towards Afghanistan” as it sees evidence that a Taliban-ruled country can stand on its own as a a benefit to America.

“My final point is to America, to America: You are a great and great country and you must have enough patience and big heart to dare to make policies towards Afghanistan based on international rules and relegation, and to end our differences and shorten the distance between us and choose good relations with Afghanistan.”

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