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Will regard Pakistan as brother when in power: Afghan Taliban

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Islamabad, Feb 10: Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid has said that if the Taliban do end up having a say in the Afghan polity one day, they will approach Pakistan “as a brother and a neighbour”, seeking “comprehensive ties based on mutual respect, just as we seek such relations with all other neighbours.”

He acknowledged that Pakistan had remained “the most important hub” for Afghan refugees during the Soviet invasion, and that it was even considered a “second home” by Afghans.

Speaking to, Mujahid also outlined the motivation for talks with the US, the conditions in which they are prepared to negotiate and their vision for a new political order, while insisting that the Taliban are holding talks with the United States “on their own initiative”.

Responding to a question regarding the timing of the talks, Mujahid explained that, even prior to the US invasion, the Taliban had asked Washington to engage in dialogue instead of war.

He added that they had eventually even opened a political office in Doha in 2013 for this purpose, but Washington had been unwilling to negotiate at the time.

The spokesperson said that now that the US is willing to talk, they have decided to engage with them.

On a question regarding Pakistan’s role in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table, Mujahid said: “There is no role being played by any outside country. This has always been our own initiative and policy.”

Mujahid said that the Taliban would have an “important role” in the new political order in Afghanistan, but declined to elaborate “before the right time”.

The spokesperson said that while the Taliban do not have a codified manifesto, their “clear” objectives were the end of the occupation of Afghanistan, establishment of an Islamic government, establishment of peace and security, reconstruction of Afghanistan and the provision of administrative services.

Mujahid said that, “without a doubt,” the constitution of the incumbent Kabul administration “was drafted under the occupation of and interests of America”.

“No country would ever accept a constitution drafted and imposed upon them while they were being bombed,” he said.

“Our society is nearly 100 per cent Muslim: our constitution will be drafted for us and implemented in light of the teachings of [the] Shariah.”

He said that once complete independence is attained by Afghanistan, scholars from within the society will be gathered and the “current errors” in the constitution would be highlighted and rectified.

“I cannot point out all the specifics because such work needs the analysis and research of qualified scholars. Following [their analysis] all errors will be made known.”

Mujahid said that the society envisioned by the Taliban was “an Islamic society” and they wanted to prepare a framework of rights “that do not violate Islamic principles […] [and are accorded] to all male and female members of society.”

“The intellectual capacity of people has expanded and a lot of experiences have been gained; hence there shall be no problems in affording women and men all their rights in the future,” he said.

The Taliban spokesperson said that while they were holding talks with the US in Doha, they had not yet reached any conclusion that would entail an immediate end to hostilities against the US and its domestic supporters.

He added that, even in Moscow, nothing concrete was achieved that would compel them to end the war and military pressure.

“We are forced to wage war. Our enemies are attacking us; therefore, we are also combating them,” he said.

Responding to a question regarding the Taliban’s previous support to and protection of the Al Qaeda leadership, which led to the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, Mujahid acknowledged that: “The Islamic Emirate sheltered those foreign Mujahideen [Al Qaeda operatives] that had arrived in Afghanistan during the period of jihad against the Soviet Union and remained behind as [an] inheritance. Their protection was a religious and cultural necessity.”

However, he added that currently there was “no one that needed [the Taliban’s] shelter”, and stated that “the Islamic Emirate shall never allow anyone to harm others from our soil.”

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