Taliban spokesman: Woman can work and study at university

by Sami Burgaz
Suhail Shaheen also says no group, individual will be allowed to use ‘asylum of Afghanistan’ to organize terrorist activities.

LONDON (AA) – Afghan women will have the right to work and be educated up to university level, a Taliban spokesman told Britain’s Sky News on Tuesday, in remarks at odds with the group’s previous stances and apparently ready-made to address international concerns.

Under the Taliban in Afghanistan, women will, however, be expected to wear hijabs (headscarves), although not the all-covering burkas, said Suhail Shaheen

“These are not our rules, these are Islamic rules,” Shaheen said, adding: “It is for their security.”

Sky News also asked if women would be allowed to hold political positions.

“Our policy is clear – they can have access to education and work, that is one thing,” Shaheen said.

“They can hold positions, but that position they can hold is in the light of Islamic rule – so there is a general framework for them,” he said.

On Afghans who worked with the previous government, which collapsed this week ahead of the Taliban taking the capital, Shaheen said: “Their properties will be saved and their honor and their lives are safe.”

The Taliban has already announced a general amnesty in Afghanistan.

Afghans who worked with the government or foreign organizations have voiced concern over Taliban retribution, but the group has publicly disavowed any attempts at revenge.

‘Consultation’ for Taliban leader

When asked who would lead the group in the country, Shaheen said a consultation will be carried out, with its result announced in two or three days.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is widely considered a key contender. He was one of the founding members of the Taliban in the 1990s, and is the current deputy leader and political chief.

Shaheen said Baradar intends to return to Afghanistan but could not say when.

Foreign powers ‘led destruction of Afghanistan for 20 years’

Shaheen also had a message for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the wider international community, saying that they should “respect the aspiration of the people of Afghanistan.”

“This is their obligation because they were behind the destruction of Afghanistan during the 20 years” of occupation, he added.

“It is their moral obligation to also help to reconstruct Afghanistan and to help the people to start a new life, and a new chapter.”

Shaheen also said that no “group or individual” will be allowed to “use the asylum of Afghanistan” to organize terrorist activities.

The US and other powers invaded Afghanistan in fall 2001, saying the Taliban leaders had given shelter to the al-Qaeda terrorists behind attacks on the US that September.

In the interview, Shaheen was also asked about viral videos and images of Afghans falling out of planes in their attempts to flee the country.

He said the Taliban was not responsible for this, as people wanted to leave because it is a “poor country,” although the exodus accelerated as Taliban forces took more and more territory in recent weeks.

Shaheen said that the Taliban were able to take over Afghanistan so quickly because “we want what the people want.”

“Our demands are similar. Our culture is similar. Everything is similar. We are closer to the people rather than them (the previous government),” he said.

With international aid being cut, Sky News asked Shaheen how the Taliban would be able to run the country financially.

“We have huge natural resources. We have very hard-working people,” he said. “We hope and we believe in our people and their capacities.”

He added that Afghanistan wants the cooperation of the international community to rebuild the country.

Shaheen said that while it does not receive financial support from Pakistan, Russia, or China, the Taliban has “good relations with them.”


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