Taliban are not terrorists, US has a wrong understanding: Zabihullah Mujahid to WION

Written By: Anas Mallick WION
Kabul Published: Oct 18, 2021, 03:30 PM(IST)

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid (file photo). Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the new government does not want skilled professionals to leave Afghanistan while adding that it will not stop 'anyone through the use of force'

During the interview, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group wants good relations with all countries while adding that women will be given their rights in Afghanistan.

Mujahid also spoke about the Taliban's relations with Pakistan and how it views its relations with the United States.

WION: The United States and the Taliban for the first time after your group gained control of Kabul is on the table for talks. What are the key issues before both parties that are being deliberated upon? How do you view this entire development?

Zabihullah Mujahid: Islamic Emirate wants good relations with all the countries and America is also another foreign country for us, we want that whatever the fight was on for, the reason is now over. 

We would want to have relations and contacts with all countries especially with America and for political reasons, we would want to continue this relationship. This relation would be beneficial for the people of Afghanistan and would also not be harmful either for America. We want that our trade, import-export should continue on a normal basis. 

Our team is in Doha, who would be holding talks with decision-makers in the US. We would want to have developments done on multiple issues in talks with the US.

WION: The US military top bosses during their testimonies on Afghanistan before the US lawmakers said that the Taliban were terrorists and will remain so. Do you think the Biden administration has or will have a different opinion when they are on the table? Pentagon assertion would also mean there will be issues in getting the Taliban leaders off the UN sanction list?

Zabihullah Mujahid: The real thing is that in the United States system specifically within its Army there is greater mismanagement and disconnect. 

First thing is that the Islamic Emirate[Taliban] never were terrorists nor are terrorists even now. The US has a wrong understanding, we reject it and we do not abide by it. 

The United States in 2020 did an agreement with us in Doha, if we were terrorists, then why are they doing deals and agreements with terrorists - this is a bigger question mark on the US system. 

The US generals and those part of the Army system for their own personal benefits talk about these things. When the war was in Afghanistan, the American generals for their private benefits were happy because of the war, that is the reason these generals say that we are terrorists. 

We want that these generals who have created instability should be removed and whatever that they have been saying, should be put to a halt. We want that Afghanistan’s political and economic condition should be stable which would be beneficial for both the people of Afghanistan and the United States.

We want to have good political and diplomatic relations globally. We would want to maintain good ties. And we are trying to keep up at pace the reason we are holding meetings with different leaders from the international community. And we want that we should be recognised and whatever problems that may arise for recognition, we are willing to address them at the earliest.

WION: How big is the problem as we have witnessed an escalation in violence and attacks recently especially, how worrisome is the use of Uighur Muslims as suicide bombers by IS in the Kunduz mosque attack. Does the Taliban have the wherewithal to tackle them?

Zabihullah Mujahid: Daesh is not a bigger problem. They conduct these cowardly acts and this blast was at a mosque targeting innocents, what IS is doing is inhumane. 

Our forces will soon be arresting those who are behind it and we are conducting an operation to eradicate Daesh. Sleeper cells of IS will soon be busted and we will eliminate them. IS should not be taken as a problem and in fact, it’s a challenge, more of a resistance to our system and we will very soon eliminate them.

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WION: We have seen the Taliban engaging with envoys of various countries and representatives of international organisations so far. But everyone has distanced themselves when it comes to recognition. Why is it so? How much importance does the Taliban lay on global recognition and do you see it happening?

Zabihullah Mujahid: Actually, we want to have good political, economic and diplomatic relations with all the global community. 

We have been trying to hold telephonic conversations with different world leaders or hold meetings with them so that it can lead towards recognition. If there are any issues towards our recognition, perhaps they can be resolved at the earliest. The Islamic Emirate is trying through positive steps to get to a good and logical way to get recognition because it is the right of the people of Afghanistan now that the war is over, they need economic support given the current situation. 

We would want assistance and for that we need assistance from different people because it is the right of Afghan people to lead a good life.

WION: Countries like China, Pakistan, Russia, Uzbekistan have come out strongly for engaging with the Taliban, but do you think that's enough?

Zabihullah Mujahid: No, this is not enough but we need to take this line and move forward. 

We want that they should walk the talk and that they should work with us in trade, economic, and political sectors. Their embassies should remain functional and that our friendly relations should continue with them.

WION: India carried out and was associated with several developmental projects in Afghanistan. What is the role that you see for India? How do you intend to move forward on these projects and India?

Zabihullah Mujahid: We would want that all countries would continue with their assistance with the Afghan government. We would give them the way and encourage all countries to work here for development. With India, we would want to have good relations and if they want to work in Afghanistan for development, then there would be no issues for that at all. 

We believe that all countries who want to be of developmental assistance to Afghanistan are welcome.

WION: Women inclusivity in particular has been a sticking point with the global community and all the countries. No women have found space in the two cabinet inductions that have already taken place. How would you guarantee women's rights when they have no voice?

Zabihullah Mujahid: I would want to say that rights to women will be given. We want an order to be established. Rights under Islamic Sharia that have been given for women, Islamic Emirate will try to give them the same especially when it comes to education and their occupation, that has to be given. 

A mechanism needs to be made for this. Our leaders are working on this mechanism. It's not that women will not be allowed to work. For now, women are there at the airport, at the hospital and are working.

WION: What is the role that you see for Pakistan and how is the Afghan Taliban engaging with Pakistan on curbing the TTP as recently PM Imran Khan had stated?

Zabihullah Mujahid: It is absolutely essential to convey that we have a good governance system. Countries that want assistance from us, we will give our point of view and opinion on it. 

We want all wars to end in all the countries, we advocate for peace in the region. Because if war is there then there is interference by countries. 

Islamic Emirate will try to ensure that its relations with all countries be good. 

Pakistan's problem with the TTP is their own and we do not want to interfere, but at the same time, we want to assure that our soil should not be used by anyone for their own benefits. And we would not want to interfere in any country’s internal problems. And if any country wants cooperation with us, we would do say within our limits.

WION: Is the Taliban aware of the resistance leaders like Saleh and Massoud and do you have any messages for them?

Zabihullah Mujahid: All I know is that the two have run away from their own country, either they are in Tajikistan or in some other country. 

And my message to them is that they should let go of the war and come back to their own country and the people of Afghanistan are getting closer to each other. 

The time to fight is over, and our aim is on economic development for the betterment of our people. And we want our armed forces to be organised and for that, I want to tell them that we are not ill-willed, and we would want to invite them back to our country, their country, that they should come back and live as Afghans because they have the right to live as Afghans in their own homeland.

WION: Will you allow people specifically SIVs, those skilled professionals to leave, will the Taliban allow them to leave the country through the airport?

Zabihullah Mujahid: Our wish for these skilled professionals is that they should not leave their country.  

Afghanistan, their country needs them. We have more than once announced that we are trying to solve our economic problems from within. There is no need for people to go abroad and those who want to go abroad can go with their legal documentation. We would never stop anyone through the use of force.

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