'Pakistan our second home, there is peace in Afghanistan': Taliban spokesperson
A spokesperson of Taliban said on Wednesday that Pakistan "is like a second home" for the insurgent group and vowed to deepen trade and strategic ties with the neighbouring country. The spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, also said that Taliban want good ties with India.
"Afghanistan shares its borders with Pakistan. We are traditionally aligned when it comes to religion, the people of both the countries mingle with each other. So we are looking forward to further deepening of ties with Pakistan," Mujahid said during an interview with Pakistan-based ARY News.
He also said that Pakistan has no role to play in Taliban's offensive to capture Afghanistan, saying the neighbouring country has never "interfered" in their affairs.
Mujahid further said that Pakistan and India should sit together to resolve their outstanding issues, adding that Taliban desire good relations with all the countries, including India.
Amid speculation around government formation in Afghanistan, the Taliban spokesperson said they want a government that is strong and based on Islam and which all Afghans are part of. News agency Reuters reported on Wednesday that former Guantanamo detainee Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir has been named acting defence minister by the Taliban. The Reuters quoted Al Jazeera news channel for the information.
The Taliban have so far not formally announced the appointments, but Mujahid told ARY News that a government will be in place before the US leaves Afghanistan on August 31. "We are working on it," said Mujahid, adding that the US should not delay its plan to withdraw American soldiers.
Mujahid also said that the Taliban won't allow Afghan soil to be used against any other country. He added that Taliban have seized control of all areas, "restoring peace and normalcy in the war-torn country".
However, many news outlets have reported Taliban brutality in Afghanistan since they returned to power after two decades. Fox News obtained a video, which it claims shows Taliban fighters roaming around the streets of Kabul and other places and opening fire while looking for ex-government workers. The channel also reported about an incident in Takhar province where a woman was killed by Taliban fighters on Tuesday for being in public without a head covering.
CNN also reported that Taliban fighters forcibly entered the house of a woman in Faryab in July and killed her for refusing to obey their command.
The Taliban completely captured Afghanistan on August 15, ousting the civilian government led by President Ashraf Ghani, who fled to UAE. In the 10 days since Taliban's victory, the United States and its allies have mounted one of the biggest air evacuations ever, bringing out more than 88,000 people, including 19,000 in the past 24 hours. According to the US military, planes are taking off every 39 minutes from Kabul airport.
India too has evacuated over 800 people, including Afghan Hindus and Sikhs, so far. A fresh batch of 180 people is expected to land in India today from Afghanistan.