Taliban representative joins woman host on news show

After sweeping military victories across Afghanistan, Taliban says it is not looking for ‘revenge’

KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) – In what appears to be a sharp break from Taliban policy until 2001, a senior Taliban figure sat across from a woman news presenter on one of Afghanistan’s leading news channels to promise fair governance and equal rights in line with Islamic Sharia law.

During its previous administration in 1996-2001, the Taliban was internationally vilified for oppressing women.

Mawlawi Abdul Hak Hammad, a senior member of the Taliban’s media team and head of Voice of Sharia Voice radio, appeared on Tolo News for a brief talk with Behesha Arghanda, a woman news presenter.

Responding to her questions, he said the group wants to ensure security in the country.

Hammad said that with time, security in the country would gradually improve.

Earlier in the day, at least seven women protested in front of the Presidential Palace in the capital Kabul demanding that their rights be protected. They carried signs saying: “Afghan Women Exist, We Want Our Rights.”

In his TV appearance, Hammad said the Taliban would soon have control over all of Afghanistan when Panjshir, the last remaining province not in their hands, falls “soon.”

He added that top-level consultations are underway to finalize the share of the future administrative system in Afghanistan along with the official name, structure, and other matters.

“Negotiations are continuing to form the future government. It is likely that a council will be formed. The constitution will be concluded after that,” he explained.

“There is talk of a comprehensive and inclusive government. (Taliban spokesman) Zabibullah Mujahid arrived in Kabul today and will provide more information on the situation soon.”

Talban ‘real owners’ of country

He added: “Only those who robbed, sold (the country) to foreigners and betrayed the country in the last 20 years are afraid or have fled. In the past, you couldn’t walk the streets after 4 p.m. But now, you can travel 24 hours anywhere in Afghanistan. That’s a big change,” he said.

Arguing that the Taliban are the real “owners” of Afghanistan, Hammad said: “The Taliban are not thieves and traitors like the old administration. The name of the Taliban has been tarnished by the propaganda of the West. Mullah Mohammed Omar’s son Mullah Mohammed Yaqub has issued important statements. We will not violate anyone’s property. We are not seeking revenge. We are here to provide security.”

He added that foreigners had “attacked us for 20 years, but (now) we do nothing to them. Let’s save the country from the occupation of foreign powers together.”

Hammad also accused President Ashraf Ghani of “betraying his own people and nation, by “stealing the property of the state.”

He claimed Ghani took $60 million with him when he fled the country, while $40 million remained behind.

Ghani has said in a short text message that he left the country to avoid confrontation with the advancing Taliban that could have caused bloodshed.


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