Sept 7, 2021: As the Taliban seized control of the last opposition in Afghanistan on Monday, completing its victory across the country, its spokesman reiterated that Pakistan’s concerns on various issues were justified and that the group would address those concerns.
Addressing a press conference, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid assured Panjshir residents that they would be safe but warned them to refrain from starting any kind of insurgency. He also said that a new government would be announced as soon as some technical issues were resolved. The Taliban’s assurance from Pakistan came after Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said in Islamabad that the recent Gwadar and Quetta terror attacks had identified the suicide bombers and added that they had come from Afghanistan.
At a press conference in Kabul, Mujahid said that as a neighbor, Pakistan’s reservations on various issues were justified and stressed: “The issues that concern Pakistan will be resolved. Our land will not be used against Pakistan.”
He urged Pakistan to keep its borders open for Afghans. A Pakistani delegation came to Afghanistan to discuss the law and order situation. The delegation talked to us about security and other issues. Pakistan has been asked to keep its borders open for Afghans.
Announcing the fall of Panjshir, Mujahid said “our country is completely out of the quagmire of war” but warned that anyone who took up arms and started another resistance would be hit “hard”.
The Taliban seized the capital, Kabul, on August 15 without a fight, launching a spectacular two-week operation across Afghanistan. The remnants of the Afghan army then retreated into the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul to form the National Resistance Front (NRF).
The 115-kilometer-long valley, surrounded by snow-capped peaks, provides the guards with a natural military advantage, allowing them to use higher positions to ambush the invading forces below. But they faced internet blockades by the Taliban and supply routes were cut off.
The Taliban, on the other hand, were encouraged by their spectacular success in the rest of the country, where they seized a large cache of weapons and military kits provided by the United States to the defeated Afghan army.
The NRF is led by Ahmed Masood, the son of Ahmad Shah Masood, as well as former officials who fled the Valley after the fall of the government, including former Vice President Amrullah Saleh, a fierce critic of the Taliban.
Under Massoud, Panjshir fighters gained a legendary reputation for resistance, first defending their mountainous homes from the Soviet army for a decade, then during the civil war and then during the last Taliban regime from 1996-2001.
At a Kabul press conference, a Taliban spokesman assured Panjshir residents that they would be safe – even though many families had reportedly fled to the mountains before the Taliban arrived.
“No more fighting. All the people of Panjshir are our brothers.”
No statement was made by Saleh, but Masood’s son Ahmed called for an end to the fighting on Sunday. Massoud, a young British educated man, said his forces were ready to lay down their arms, but only if the Taliban agreed to end their attack.
But in another statement Monday, Massoud accused the Taliban of attacking even though they agreed to a ceasefire. He vowed to fight, urging Afghans to join the fight against the Taliban.
However, a Taliban spokesman warned that any insurgency against their rule would be “severely beaten”.
“The Islamic Emirate is very sensitive about the insurgency. Anyone who tries to start an insurgency will be severely beaten. Whoever takes up arms and starts another resistance, without a doubt, will be our enemy. The war is over, the country is emerging from the crisis. Now is the time for peace and reconstruction. We need our people.”
The spokesman called on former members of the Afghan forces to join the new rulers. “Afghan forces trained over the past 20 years will be asked to rejoin the security sector with members of the Taliban,” he said.
Mujahid also told reporters that the Taliban would announce a new government “in a few days”. “Final decisions have been made, we are now working on technical issues,” he said. “As soon as the technical issues are resolved, we will announce a new government.”
The spokesman said that the Afghan people do not want any more war in Afghanistan. He appealed to the world to provide financial support for the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan and to restore the confidence of all investors as soon as he comes to power.
Mujahid said the group was working to repair Kabul airport, where only domestic flights had resumed and now only during the day. He accused US troops of destroying equipment before departure, including key radar systems.
The United States, however, said its troops destroyed military equipment but left equipment suitable for operating civilian airports, such as fire trucks. Technicians from Qatar and Turkey have begun repairs, although it is unclear when and when the airport will open. Mujahid said that serious efforts were being made to resume airport operations. He said technical teams from Qatar, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates were working hard to repair the equipment.
Asked what women’s rights would be under the Taliban, Mujahid promised that all women would eventually be asked to return to their jobs.
He also said: “Afghanistan has the right to be recognized. The international community should open its embassies in Kabul.”
Mujahid added that China had assured us of “support” and reiterated its desire to make Afghanistan part of China’s economic plans.
The spokesperson further said that we want to be a part of CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor).
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