Taliban announces ‘amnesty,’ urges women to join government

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Hundreds of people gather near a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane at a perimeter at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Shekib Rahmani)


The Taliban declared an “amnesty” across Afghanistan and urged women to join their government Tuesday, trying to calm nerves across a tense capital city that only the day before saw chaos at its airport as people tried to flee.

The comments by Enamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission, represent the first comments on governance from a federal level in Afghanistan after their blitz across the country.

While there were no major reports of fighting in Kabul, many residents have stayed home and remain fearful after the insurgents’ takeover saw prisons emptied and armories looted.

Evacuation flights resumed early Tuesday following a suspension the day before as people crowded the runway trying to flee the Taliban takeover.

Following Monday’s chaotic scenes at the airport, many Afghans who worked with US, French and other Western embassies and NGOs stayed home awaiting word on evacuation plans.

Older generations remember the ultraconservative Islamic regime that saw regular stonings, amputations and public executions during Taliban rule before the US-led invasion that followed the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

“The Islamic Emirate doesn’t want women to be victims,” Samangani said, using the militants’ term for Afghanistan. “They should be in government structure according to Shariah law.”

He added: “The structure of government is not fully clear, but based on experience, there should be a fully Islamic leadership and all sides should join.”

Samangani remained vague on other details, however, implying people already knew the rules of Islamic law the Taliban expected them to follow.

“Our people are Muslims and we are not here to force them to Islam,” he said.

Female broadcaster on-air, talks resume

Under the Taliban, which ruled in accordance with a harsh interpretation of Islamic law, women were largely confined to their homes. The insurgents have sought to project greater moderation in recent years, but many Afghans remain sceptical.

Afghanistan’s leading TV station, Tolo News, on Tuesday broadcast a news programme with a female anchor interviewing a member of the Taliban’s media team. Afghan female anchors have been off-air since Kabul fell to the Taliban on Sunday as the city reeled in shock over the rapidly changing situation on the ground.

Beheshta Arghand interviewing Mawlawi Abdulhaq Hemad, a close member of the Taliban’s media team


Meanwhile, talks appeared to be continuing between the Taliban and several Afghan government officials, including former president Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, who once headed the country’s negotiating council. President Ashraf Ghani earlier fled the country amid the Taliban advance and his whereabouts remain unknown.

An official with direct knowledge of the talks, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorised to brief journalists, said senior Taliban leader Amir Khan Muttaqi had arrived in Kabul from Qatar. Muttaqi was a higher education minister during the former Taliban regime and had reportedly begun making contact with Afghan political leaders even before Ghani fled.



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