Islamabad, not Kabul, to deal with Pak Taliban issue; Mujahid
ISLAMABAD: Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has said that it is up to Islamabad, and not Afghanistan, to address issues related to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a militant group.
The TTP is an umbrella organization of various militant groups fighting to overthrow the Pakistan government and responsible for attacking military and civilian targets, especially along the country’s border with Afghanistan.
Islamabad has for long voiced concern over the TTP’s presence in Afghanistan. The Afghan Taliban, which swept across Afghanistan in a lightning offensive, took control of the capital, Kabul, on August 15 and has repeatedly vowed to form an “all-inclusive” government and not allow Afghan territory to be used in attacks against any other country.
Mujahid reiterated that pledge during a late-night interview with a local Pakistani news channel on Saturday, saying: “Our principle stance is that we will not allow the use of our soil by anyone for destroying peace in someone else’s country.”
On whether the Taliban leadership would ask the TTP not to “wage war against Pakistan,” Mujahid said: “The issue of the TTP is that Pakistan will have to deal with, not Afghanistan.”
“It is up to Pakistan, and Pakistani ulema [religious scholars] and religious figures, not the Taliban, to decide on the legitimacy or illegitimacy of their war and to formulate a strategy in response,” he added.
Inspired by Al Qaeda, the TTP launched several attacks against Pakistani security forces, including the storming of the army’s Rawalpindi headquarters in October 2019, killing more than 100 school children in December 2014.
“We have been taking up the issue of use of Afghan soil by the TTP for terrorist activities in Pakistan with the previous Afghan government,” Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri told reporters last week.
“We will continue raising the issue with the future Afghan government as well to ensure that TTP is not provided any space in Afghanistan to operate against Pakistan,” he added.
Taliban meet in Kandahar, discuss formation of govt
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid on Tuesday informed that “the Islamic Emirate leadership council” held a three-day meeting in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province.
The meeting was headed by the Taliban’s leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, and it ended on Monday, Mujahid was quoted as saying by Tolo News. “The leadership council discussed Afghanistan’s political, security and social issues,” during the meeting, Mujahid said in a series of tweets.
“The council has also discussed issues around forming the new government and its cabinet and has taken some decisions on providing services to the people, Tolo News reported citing Mujahid’s tweets.
The developments came after the newly-appointed Kabul mayor, who is also the head of the Taliban’s municipality commission, Hamdullah Nomani on Monday enforced Sharia law in the capital.
The Taliban has been trying to paint a new picture from its earlier rule (1996-2001) when they enforced their version of Islamic Sharia law.
The Taliban earlier ruled in accordance with a harsh interpretation of Islamic law under which women were largely confined to their homes. But now the terrorists have sought to project themselves as a moderate group in recent years when they were negotiating peace talks in Doha.
Taliban declare victory
The Taliban on Tuesday declared victory over the United States from the tarmac of Kabul airport after the last American troop left Afghanistan.
Standing on the airport runway, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told a small crowd that “This victory belongs to us all.” He was joined by heavily armed fighters from the Taliban’s Badri 313 special forces brigade, kitted out in camouflage uniforms and desert boots, reported CNN.
Mujahid congratulated the Taliban fighters lined up, and indeed “the whole of the nation.” He said the Taliban wanted to have “good relations with the US and the world.”
Videos showed Taliban fighters filling the night air with gunfire and walking through the airport. As the sun rose on Tuesday, footage showed the Taliban making their way through an abandoned hanger strewn with equipment the US left behind.
In one video, militants dressed in US-style uniforms and holding US-made weapons examined a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter parked inside a hangar. Taliban were also seen posing for photographs while sitting in the cockpits of planes and helicopters that once belonged to the Afghan Air Force, reported CNN.
On Tuesday morning, Afghanistan’s roughly 38 million people woke to a new phase of the Taliban’s takeover of the country for the first time since the 1990s, when it imposed a barbaric interpretation of Sharia law that banned girls from school, stoned women for adultery, and plunged the country into economic crisis.
The Taliban have pledged to govern more moderately this time around and said they would still allow foreign nationals and Afghans with proper documentation to leave the country after August 31. But many Afghans are sceptical of their claims, and huge question marks hang over the Taliban’s ability to run the country.
An immediate challenge for the Taliban will be securing Hamid Karzai International Airport, a vital lifeline to the rest of the world — both for Afghans and foreign nationals wanting to leave, and for aid to get in, reported CNN.
Afghanistan is heavily reliant on foreign aid, and the WHO and UNICEF have already struggled to get critical food and medical supplies to the airport amid the mass evacuation operation.
Even before the political upheaval of recent weeks, Afghanistan represented the world’s third-largest humanitarian concern, with over 18 million people requiring assistance, according to UNICEF. But with no commercial aircraft currently permitted to land in Kabul, getting aid in will be difficult.
Restarting commercial flights will also be crucial for people still wanting to leave the country but who did not make it onto military evacuation planes, reported CNN. (ANI)