The group says it will allow Afghan women to work and study, assures media professionals they will be protected.
The Taliban vow to protect women’s rights and press freedom at the group’s first press conference after its astonishing takeover of Afghanistan as the group’s co-founder returned to the country.
“We will allow women to work and study. We have executives, of course. Women will be very active in society but within the framework of Islam, ”Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesperson for the group, said at a press conference in Kabul on Tuesday.
Following a flash offensive across Afghanistan that saw many cities fall to the group with minimal resistance, the Taliban sought to portray themselves as more moderate than when they imposed a brutal regime on the late 1990s.
Mujahid, who had been a shadow figure for years, said that “there will be no discrimination against women”, adding that “they will work side by side with us”.
Pressed on how the new Taliban government will differ from the previous one, Mujahid said the group has moved on and will not take the same actions as in the past.
“There will be a difference in what actions we are going to take” compared to 20 years ago, he said.
The group is committed to protecting the rights of media workers, Mujahid assured the assembled journalists.
“We are committed to the media within our cultural frameworks. Private media can continue to be free and independent. They can continue their activities, ”he said.
He also said the group did not intend to enter people’s homes or carry out retaliatory attacks against anyone who served in previous governments, worked with foreigners or were part of the security forces. Afghan nationals.
There was unconfirmed reports that Taliban fighters broke into the homes of residents of Kabul, but Mujahid said they were impostors who should be handed over to the Taliban and face appropriate penalties.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the group’s co-founder and now deputy leader, arrived in the country’s second-largest city, Kandahar, from Doha, Qatar, where he spent months in talks with the United States and then the Afghan peace negotiators. Kandahar is the spiritual cradle and capital of the Taliban when they first came to power.
Baradar’s arrival could signal that an agreement on forming a government is near. But in a possible complication, the deputy president of the ousted government said on Twitter on Tuesday that he was the country’s “legitimate” interim president.
Amrullah Saleh said that under the constitution he should be in charge because President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.
Additional reporting by Ali M Latifi in Kabul.