Women will live 'within framework of Islam', Taliban say in first press conference

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Women Will Live 'Within Framework Of Islam', Taliban Say In First Press Conference Women Will Live 'Within Framework Of Islam', Taliban Say In First Press Conference
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid (Rahmat Gul/AP), © AP/Press Association Images
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The Taliban held their first official news conference in Kabul since the shock seizure of the city, declaring on Tuesday they wished for peaceful relations with other countries and would respect the rights of women within the framework of Islamic law.

"We don't want any internal or external enemies," the movement's main spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.

The press conference began with recitation from the Quran, before Mujahid told reporters that the group holds no grudge against anyone.

No one from the United States or international community will be harmed, he said.

Thousands of soldiers who fought against the Taliban for 20 years have all been pardoned, he added, along with translators or contractors who worked for foreign powers.

Rights of women

The spokesman said the group was committed to the rights of women within the framework of sharia, or Islamic religious law.

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He said women would be allowed to work and study and "will be very active in society but within the framework of Islam."

Mujahid said the prevailing situation in the country was "kind of a military situation" and that everything would become more clear after the formation of the government.

After the government is formed, it will decide what kind of laws to present to the nation, he said.

He said the Taliban wanted private media to “remain independent”, but stressed journalists “should not work against national values”.

Many Afghans fear the Taliban will return to past harsh practices in their imposition of sharia. During their 1996 to 2001 rule, women could not work and punishments such as stoning, whipping and hanging were administered.

The militants are now seeking to project a more moderate face, promising to respect women's rights and protect both foreigners and Afghans.

Evacuations

Mujahid also stressed that Afghanistan would not allow itself to harbour anyone targeting other nations.

That was a key demand in a deal the militants struck with the Trump administration in 2020 that led to the ultimate US withdrawal under current President Joe Biden.

US military flights evacuating diplomats and civilians from Afghanistan restarted on Tuesday after the runway at Kabul airport was cleared of thousands desperate to flee following the Taliban's sudden takeover of the capital.

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The number of civilians had thinned out, a Western security official at the airport told Reuters, a day after chaotic scenes in which US troops fired to disperse crowds and people clung to a US military transport plane as it taxied for take-off.

Afghans crowd at the tarmac of the Kabul airport on August 16th. Photo: AFP via Getty Images.

At least 12 military flights had taken off, a diplomat at the airport said. The Pentagon said on Tuesday that the aim was to have one flight taking off from Kabul per hour.

Planes were due to arrive from countries including Australia and Poland to pick up their nationals and Afghan colleagues, while flights from Germany, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic have already landed.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called on the Taliban to allow all those who wanted to leave the country to leave.

There has been widespread criticism of the US withdrawal amid the chaotic scenes at Kabul airport. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said "the images of despair at Kabul airport shame the political West."

The images of despair at Kabul airport shame the political West

Flights were suspended for much of Monday when civilians desperate to leave spilled onto the runway.

Witnesses said at least five people died in Monday's chaos at the airport — media reported two people fell to their deaths from the underside of a US military aircraft after it took off.

US troops killed two gunmen who appeared to have fired into the crowd at the airport, a US official said.

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A video of desperate Afghans trying to clamber on to a US military plane as it was about to take off could haunt the United States, just as a photograph in 1975 of people trying to get on a helicopter on a roof in Saigon became emblematic of the withdrawal from Vietnam.

President Joe Biden said he had to decide between asking US forces to fight endlessly or follow through on a withdrawal agreement negotiated by his predecessor, Republican Donald Trump.

"I stand squarely behind my decision," Mr Biden said. "After 20 years I've learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces. That's why we're still there."

Facing criticism from even his own diplomats, he blamed the Taliban's takeover on Afghan political leaders who fled and its army's unwillingness to fight.

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