'No secrecy anymore': Taliban say world will soon see all their leaders

From no education for women to giving interview to a woman presenter, the Taliban want to convey the message that it has come a long way, though reports and videos of atrocities paint a different picture.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid interacts after addressing the press conference. (AFP)
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid interacts after addressing the press conference. (AFP)
Published on Aug 18, 2021 01:48 PM IST
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By hindustantimes.com | Written by Poulomi Ghosh

In a surprise move, the Taliban which managed to capture Afghanistan easily after the United States started to withdraw their troops, the insurgent group addressed a press conference on Tuesday triggering discussion over Taliban 1.0 and Taliban 2.0, probably a milder version. Distancing themselves from their earlier hardline stance, the leadership on Tuesday said they do not want any rivalry inside or outside. Amnesty for all, women rights, press freedom are the official policies of the Taliban now that it is setting out to rule the country. The Taliban leaders also interacted with journalists who were present at the meet.

"Slowly, gradually, the world will see all our leaders, there will be no shadow of secrecy," the senior Taliban official, who declined to be identified, told Reuters.

Hibatullah Akhundzada and Abdul Ghani Baradar are the two main components of the Taliban at present. Baradar is one of the founding members of the group, the other one being Mullah Mohammed Omar. Zabihullah Mujahid who addressed the press meet is the spokesperson of the group. But it was a rare occasion that he came out to address the press and interacted with them as most of his earlier communications were through video/audio messages.

Attempt to be in the mainstream

The recent moves of the Taliban after they reached Kabul indicate that they are looking for a larger acceptance by Afghans. At the same time, they are attempting an image makeover and that's why they now want to come out of their shadow of secrecy. When the Taliban were in power from 1996 to 2001, they were recognised only by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This time, they are looking for more acceptance.

Taliban attack women, children at Kabul airport despite peace promise: Report

After Taliban fighters reached Kabul on August 15, the leadership announced that there will be no bloodshed. There will also be no celebration. Since the world is closely watching Kabul, the leadership is cautious about not sending a wrong message to the world through any misstep, especially in Kabul.

On Tuesday, an interview of a Taliban spokesperson was telecast on Tolo News and a female news presenter interviewed Taliban spokesperson Mawlawi Abdulhaq Hemad.

“We said to them, look, a female is going to interview you,” Saad Mohseni, the founder of TOLO News told the Guardian. “And they said fine. They could have easily have said sc*** you – they run the country, they can do whatever they want," Saad Mohseni said. The news channel briefly sent its female reporters home on Sunday after the Taliban reached Kabul but then it became "business-as-usual".

Words versus action

However, the gap between the Taliban's words and actions has already started showing. Reports said women and children at Kabul airport were attacked by Taliban fighters. A woman was reportedly killed in Takhar province for not wearing a burqa. In Bamyan, Hazara leader Abdul Ali Mazari's statue has been blown up, an amusement park in Sheberghan has been set on fire as there were idols and idols are illegal in Islam.

(With agency inputs)

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