“All Afghans” should feel safe under the Taliban, says security chief | Taliban news
Kabul, Afghanistan – Khalil Ur-Rahman Haqqani, a Taliban figure currently in charge of security in Kabul, echoed the group’s claims that “all Afghans” should feel safe in their Islamic emirate, and that a “general amnesty” has been granted in all 34 countries of the country. provinces.
Speaking to Al Jazeera on Sunday, Haqqani, whose associates also play a leading role in establishing security in the capital, said the Taliban was working to restore order and security in a country which has seen more than four decades of war.
“If we can defeat the superpowers, we can certainly ensure the safety of the Afghan people,” said Haqqani, who is also a veteran of the Afghan-Soviet war.
Many Afghans are skeptical that a leader of the Haqqani network, known to be the most brutal and violent group associated with the Taliban, will bring security to Afghanistan after 40 years of war and violence – especially because of reports of house-to-house searches and violence allegedly committed by the Taliban continue to flow, including in Kabul.
Haqqani is still labeled a “global terrorist” by the United States, with a $ 5 million bounty issued to him by the US Treasury Department in February 2011, and he remains on a United Nations terrorist list.
Haqqani’s statement also comes as thousands continue to try to enter Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, where the Taliban, intelligence forces and US soldiers actively try to stop the desperately trying crowds. to flee the country to enter the premises.
Since crowds first gathered near the airport last Sunday, there have been almost daily reports of violence, injuries, pushes and deaths.
Still, Haqqani insisted that people shouldn’t be afraid of the Taliban.
“Our hostility was with the occupation. There was a superpower that came from outside to divide us. They forced a war on us. We have no hostility towards anyone, we are all Afghans, ”he said.
Haqqani’s reference to a “forced” war refers to a similar term often used by the government of former President Ashraf Ghani. This government has repeatedly called the Afghan conflict an “imposed war”.
However, the two sides differ as to who they believe brought the war to Afghanistan. For the Taliban and Haqqani, it was the United States and their coalition of 40 nations, while Ghani and his administration have often blamed neighboring Pakistan for the violence and discord in their nation by facilitating the Taliban and other armed groups – which Islamabad denies.
Now that foreign forces are within 10 days of a full withdrawal, Haqqani and the Taliban say they see no enemies on Afghan soil and instead want to work with as many people as possible to restore order to the region. nation.
Taliban leaders have sought to show a more moderate face since the capture of Kabul last Sunday and have started talks on forming a government.
Haqqani cites recent meetings with former President Karzai, as well as with Abdullah Abdullah, a member of the resistance against the initial Taliban regime in the 1990s, and Gul Agha Sherzai, the former Minister of Borders and Tribal Affairs as proof that the group is ready to embrace all Afghans.
“Karzai was in conflict with us for 13 years, but in the end we even assured him of his safety,” Haqqani said, referring to the years Karzai spent as head of the Western-backed Afghan government, which the Taliban have often referred to. as a “puppet” or “companion” administration.
In another sign that the group is signaling a willingness to abandon past feuds, on Sunday the Taliban allowed Karzai and Abdullah to negotiate with Ahmad Massoud, son of Tajik Mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Massoud.
In the 1990s, the elder Massoud organized the only armed resistance to the Taliban’s strict five-year rule. There is concern that if young Massoud’s movement, which is called “Resistance 2.0” online, fails to come to an agreement with the Taliban, it could push Afghanistan back into another civil war.
To further prove his view that the Taliban are keeping their amnesty promises, Haqqani told Al Jazeera the story of his last interactions with the former national security adviser to Ghani’s government, Hamdullah Mohib.
“I was talking to Mohib, I told him not to go, that he and President Ghani would be safe. I said ‘We will ensure your safety,’ ”Haqqani said of the British national who allegedly fled with the former president.
In statements posted to his Facebook, Ghani said he fled to avoid bloodshed and to save his life, saying his security warned him of a credible threat to kill him if he stayed. in the country.
Haqqani denies this claim.
“All these people who have left this country, we will assure them of their safety. You are all welcome in Afghanistan, ”he said.
But for millions of Afghans, the words of Haqqani and Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid are not enough to see them return to the streets of Kabul. Across the capital, giant supermarkets remain closed, shops experience minimal foot traffic, and popular restaurants, cafes and shisha bars are struggling to make ends meet with only a fraction of their old clientele.
Patricia Gossman, deputy director for Asia at Human Rights Watch, says that too often references to security and order can pave the way for a police state.
“Public order is not the same as the rule of law. What we need to see is whether they will address concerns about house searches of journalists and activists, and responsibility for the killings of former government officials and media workers, ”Gossman told Al Jazeera. .
Meanwhile, Haqqani said the Taliban are working hard to try to stop other Afghans from fleeing, but the circulation of what he says are unfounded reports of abuse and violence make things much worse. difficult.
He says “the whole world” is trying to “fool” the Afghan people by claiming that the Taliban will eventually revert to the strict and brutal rule of the 1990s, which he vehemently denies.
This is, he said, the reason people go to the airport, “where they are treated shamefully.”
He says educated people who flee should work to serve their country rather than going to the airport, where they will face violence, humiliation and “shame”.
“We cannot build Afghanistan from the outside,” he told those who are waiting to leave or who have already left.
He also referred to the past 20 years of foreign intervention in which foreigners and Afghans have come from abroad to work in the country.
“Foreigners cannot build the nation for us. All they did was destroy it.