Kabul, Afghanistan – Khalil-ur-Rahman Haqqani, a senior Taliban leader who is currently in charge of security in Kabul, echoed the group’s claims that “all Afghans” should feel safe under their Islamic emirate, and that a “general amnesty” has been granted across the country’s 34 countries. counties.
Speaking to Al Jazeera on Sunday, Haqqani, whose partners play a leading role in establishing security in the capital, said the Taliban are working to restore order and security to a country that has seen more than four decades of war.
“If we can defeat the great powers, then surely we can provide safety for the Afghan people,” said Haqqani, who is also a veteran of the Afghan-Soviet war.
Many Afghans are skeptical that the leader of the Haqqani Network, known to be the most brutal and violent group linked to the Taliban, will bring security to Afghanistan after 40 years of war and violence – especially with reports of Home to home searches And the violence allegedly perpetrated by the Taliban is pouring in, including in Kabul.
Haqqani is still classified as a “global terrorist” by the United States, with a $5 million bounty issued by the US Treasury in February 2011, and remains on the United Nations terrorism list.
Haqqani’s statement also comes as thousands of people continue to try to reach Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, where the Taliban, intelligence forces and US soldiers are actively trying to keep the crowds in check. Desperately trying to flee the country from entering the building.
Since crowds gathered near the airport last Sunday, there have been almost daily reports of violence, injuries, stampedes and deaths.
However, Haqqani insisted that people should not be afraid of the Taliban.
Our hostility was with the occupation. There was a great power that came from outside to divide us. They imposed a war on us. We have no enmity with anyone, we are all Afghans.
Haqqani’s reference to “forced” war refers to a similar term often used by the government of former President Ashraf Ghani. That government repeatedly referred to the Afghan conflict as an “imposed war”.
However, both sides differ on who they claim brought the war to Afghanistan. For the Taliban and Haqqani, it was the US and its 40-nation coalition, while Ghani and his administration blamed neighboring Pakistan for the violence and discord in their country by facilitating the Taliban and other armed groups – something Islamabad denies.
Now that it has been less than 10 days since foreign forces have fully withdrawn, Haqqani and the Taliban say they see no enemy on Afghan soil and instead want to work with as many people as possible to restore order to the nation.
Taliban leaders have sought to show a more moderate face since taking control of Kabul last Sunday, and began talks government formation.
Haqqani points to recent meetings with former President Karzai, as well as Abdullah Abdullah, a member of the resistance against the initial Taliban rule in the 1990s, and Gul Agha Shirzai, a former Minister of Borders and Tribal Affairs as evidence of the group’s desire. To embrace all Afghans.
Haqqani said referring to Karzai’s years as head of the Western-backed Afghan government, which the Taliban often referred to as a “puppet” or “puppet.”
In another indication that the group is signaling its willingness to break with past enmities, the Taliban Sunday authorized Karzai and Abdullah to negotiate with Ahmed Masoud, the son of slain Tajik Mujahideen commander Ahmed Shah Masoud.
In the 1990s, Masoud al-Akbar launched the only armed resistance against the Taliban’s five-year strict rule. There are fears that if the younger Massoud’s movement, referred to as the “Resistance 2.0” on the Internet, fails to reach a settlement with the Taliban, it could push Afghanistan into a retreat. Towards another civil war.
To prove his point that the Taliban are abiding by their promises of amnesty, Haqqani told Al Jazeera the story of his recent interactions with Ghani’s former national security adviser, Hamdullah Mohib.
I was talking to Muheeb, and I told him not to leave, and that he and President Ghani would be safe. Haqqani said of the British citizen who was said to have fled with the former president, I said, “We will guarantee you security.”
Ghani said in statements posted on his Facebook page, that he escaped To avoid bloodshed And to save his life, claiming that his security warned him of a real threat to kill him if he stayed in the country.
Haqqani denies this claim.
All those who have left this country, we will guarantee their safety. We welcome you all to Afghanistan.
But for millions of Afghans, the words of Haqqani and Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid are not enough to see them return to the streets of Kabul. Across the capital, giant supermarkets remain closed, stores see minimal foot traffic, and popular restaurants, cafés and hookah bars struggle to make ends meet with only a tiny fraction of their former customer base.
Oftentimes references to security and order can pave the way for a police state, says Patricia Gusman, associate director for Asia at Human Rights Watch.
“Law and order is not the same as the rule of law. What we need to see is whether they will address concerns about searches of journalists and activists’ homes, and accountability for the killings of former government employees and media workers,” Gusman told Al Jazeera.
Meanwhile, Haqqani said the Taliban are working hard to try to prevent other Afghans from escaping, but the circulation of what he says are unfounded reports of abuse and violence makes it more difficult.
He says “the whole world” is trying to “deceive” the Afghan people with claims that the Taliban will eventually return to the harsh and brutal rule of the 1990s, which he vehemently denies.
This is why people go to the airport, he said, “where they are treated in a disgraceful way”.
He says educated people who flee should work to serve their country rather than go to the airport, where they will face violence, humiliation and “shame”.
“We can’t build Afghanistan from the outside,” he told those waiting to leave or have already left.
He also referred to the past 20 years of foreign intervention that has seen foreigners and Afghans come from abroad to work in the country.
“Outsiders cannot build a nation for us. All they have done is destroy it.”