Dr. Mohammad Naim, a spokesperson for the Taliban’s political office, stressed that his movement has sent out assurances within Afghanistan, the neighboring region and international community that the country will not be a platform to threaten the security of other nations.
The movement also issued general amnesty inside Afghanistan to people who had fought it for decades and who had allied themselves with its enemies, he added, saying it was doing so from a position of strength.
In an interview by email to Asharq Al-Awsat, Naim explained that his movement could have arrested its rivals and put them on trial. That would have been justice, but it opted instead for amnesty. Amnesty is an act of goodness, which is above justice, he said.
Through this gesture, the “Islamic Emirate” of Afghanistan wanted to open a new chapter and put an end to the bitterness and grudges of the past. This new chapter paves the way for new relations where all Afghans can come together to build an Islamic system, he explained.
On the regional level, the Taliban has expressed its readiness to let go of the past and forge new ties based on good neighborliness and refraining from meddling in the affairs of others, he went on to say.
On the international level, Naim said the “Emirate” wanted to establish normal diplomatic relations with countries, even those that had fought it for 20 years.
Asked if the Taliban has changed its strategy after two decades, he said that the reassuring messages the “Emirate” is sending to the Afghan people, its neighbors and the world are nothing new to the movement. The movement has long expressed its readiness for such relations, but the others always rejected its advances. They wanted the movement to abandon its values and approach and surrender to the occupation, he went on to say.
The amnesty and refusal to resort to violence are all part of the “Emirate”, he explained, but hostile media has always refused to show this image. The Taliban will fulfill its pledges to its people, neighbors and the entire world.
Asked how much the movement has changed since it ruled Afghanistan the first time back in 1996 and imposed harsh daily restrictions on the people, Naim replied that the foundations of the movement’s ideology are based on religion.
The movement wants an independent Islamic system based on Sharia law, he explained. This system will achieve justice, end oppression, provide security, unite the country, foster fraternity between the Muslim Afghan people, preserve everyone’s rights, achieve economic and social prosperity and establish positive relations with all countries.
These goals have never changed, he stressed.
The “Emirate” has learned a lot in the past 20 years. It has bolstered its experience in politics and the military, cultural, education and social fields, he went to say, remarking that the world has also largely changed as well throughout that time.
Asked when the Taliban will impose Sharia law in Afghanistan, Naim replied that the implementation of Sharia is not limited to penalties against crimes, theft and drinking alcohol.
Sharia means religion becomes a way of life in terms of creed, worship, behavior and morals. It becomes part of the people’s individual, social, political, economic and cultural lives, he stated. The system is responsible for providing the people with security and opportunities in all fields.
The first thing the future system will implement is fulfill the goal the Afghan people have strived for for over 40 years and that is the establishment of an Islamic system under which they can live in security, safety and dignity, he said.
Commenting on the rapid collapse of the former Afghan government headed by President Ashraf Ghani, he stated that the administration in Kabul was introduced by the occupation. The Afghan people refuse to be ruled by foreigners and have, throughout history, opposed any occupation.
Moreover, he remarked that the guards who were protecting the administration were of the people. Circumstances had prevented them from joining the mujahedeen, but when the foreign forces pulled out, they naturally returned to the people.
Furthermore, the strength, faith and courage of the “Emirate” and people’s acceptance of it led to the collapse of the Kabul administration, he stressed.
Asked if the Taliban was prepared to form an expanded government with other segments of Afghan society, Naim replied that the movement was working on forming a government that represents the Muslim Afghan people and all of their components.
The new government will meet its expectations and will be the real product of their jihad and sacrifices, he stated.
Looking beyond the Afghan borders, Naim said the Taliban was hoping to establish strong relations with all Islamic and Arab countries and ties of friendship with all world countries. The Taliban and Arab-Islamic countries enjoy bonds of creed, religion, history and geography, as well as joint interests, he noted.
Moreover, he stressed that Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and the qibla of Muslims, and so it holds a major position in the Muslim nation.
Meanwhile, other countries, such as China, Russia and Germany and some members of the European Union, have started to send “positive” messages towards the “Emirate”, which it appreciates, revealed Naim.
The Taliban also boasts good relations with all of its neighbors and it wants to expand them further. The movement had previously expressed its keenness on establishing normal relations with all countries, especially neighboring ones. The “Emirate” has received positive messages from neighbors, including China, Pakistan and Iran.
Commenting on the US pullout from Afghanistan, he said foreigners cannot remain in a country that is not their own. The Taliban was confident that the foreign forces would withdraw from the country.
Turning to the Taliban’s approach towards extremist groups, such as al-Qaeda, he stressed that the “Emirate” had pledged to all countries that Afghanistan will not serve as a platform for operations that threaten the security of any country. “We are committed to this. We do not meddle in the affairs of others and will not allow others to meddle in ours.”
On the role of women in Afghanistan, Naim said the “Emirate” had underscored its keenness on educating women and their right to hold jobs. This should all, however, take place according to Sharia law and the values of the Afghan people.
Asked if the people will grow accustomed to the Taliban, he stated that the people are Muslim and they know the rules of Islam. The people are proud of their religion, values, morals and nation. Islam is no stranger to the people, who have throughout history made sacrifices for the religion. This is secret to no one.
The “Emirate” is widely accepted by the majority of the people and the popular celebrations that welcomed the mujahedeen when they swept through Afghan cities is evidence of that, he noted.
The enemies are those who vilify the “Islamic Emirate” and who work on tarnishing its image, he stressed. Those who have been deceived by these claims have since opened their eyes to the truth.
The war is over, declared Naim. Now is the time for peace, in spite of some lingering problems. Kabul will be ruled by a just and fair Islamic system that meets the demands of the Muslim Afghan people.
Asked if the Taliban will return to the harsh punishments, such as public executions, amputations and stoning, it had adopted when it ruled between 1996 and 2001, he said that punishments outlined in the Quran and Sunnah and agreed to by scholars of the nation are not described as harsh or inhumane.
The “Emirate” does not impose such punishments, but God does, he clarified, citing evidence in the Quran, Sunnah teachings and by scholars.
Delivering a message to Arab and Muslim readers around the world, Naim said he expects all sides to stand by the wronged Afghan people now that they are living in peace. The Taliban will rebuild a country that has been destroyed by over 20 years of war, he vowed.