China can play a very big role in rebuilding Afghanistan: Taliban
China can play a big role in the “rebuilding, rehabilitation, reconstruction of Afghanistan”, Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen told Chinese national broadcaster CGTN late on Thursday in an interview.
Shaheen’s interview was broadcast within hours of the Chinese foreign ministry saying that the current Taliban appeared more “clear-headed and rational” than they were when they were in power from 1996 to 2001.
The Taliban insurgent group seized control of Kabul and much of the country in the past one week in an upheaval that sent thousands of civilians and Afghan military allies fleeing to safety.
According to reports emerging from Afghanistan and experts, many fear a return to an austere interpretation of Islamic law imposed during the previous Taliban rule that ended 20 years ago.
Beijing seems to think otherwise and has said more than once that it hopes that Taliban will usher in an “inclusive” government that follows moderate Islamic policies.
Asked if the group would implement similar hardline laws to those they enforced in the 1990s, Shaheen claimed international reports of violence against women were incorrect.
“There is no subjugation of women, the women are allowed to continue their work if they are journalists, they are practically now continuing their work. If they are teachers, they go to school,” Shaheen told CGTN Europe.
He said the Muslims in Afghanistan were happy to be governed under strict sharia law, but reiterated that the judicial system allowed for layers of appeal to protect the innocent.
Asked about China’s role, Shaheen said the Taliban had kept up relations with Beijing.
“China is a big country with a huge economy and capacity. I think it can play a very big role in the rebuilding, rehabilitation, reconstruction of Afghanistan,” Shaheen said.
Shaheen claimed the group has the support of the people of Afghanistan.
The Taliban’s advance across Afghanistan represented a “popular uprising against an imposed administration”, he said, adding that the speed of the group’s advance across the country legitimises its takeover of the national government.
“It is not an election, but it shows the support of the people,” Shaheen said.