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China Welcome to Contribute to Afghanistan Rebuilding: Taliban spokesman

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo of Suhail Shaheen, center, spokesman for the Taliban in Qatar speaking to people at the Intra-Afghan Dialogue in Doha. Karim Jaafar—AFP

Suhail Shaheen claims to Chinese state media that people trying to flee Afghanistan following Taliban takeover have been ‘deceived by rumors’

Praising China’s “constructive role” in promoting peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Beijing state media that it was “welcome” to contribute to Kabul’s rebuilding process.

“China is a big country with a huge economy and capacity—I think they can play a very big role in the rebuilding, rehabilitation, reconstruction of Afghanistan,” he told the China Global Television Network in an interview that was broadcast late on Thursday.

Last month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met a Taliban delegation in Tianjin, saying he hoped Afghanistan could adopt a moderate policy.

Earlier on Thursday, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said that Beijing maintains contact and communication with the Afghan Taliban and other parties on the basis of full respect for the sovereignty of Afghanistan and the will of all parties. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said China encourages, and hopes, that the Afghan Taliban can follow through its positive statements, unite with all parties and ethnic groups in Afghanistan, establish a broad-based, inclusive political framework that fits the national conditions and wins public support through dialogue and consultation as soon as possible, and adopt moderate and prudent domestic and foreign policies.

“If we do not keep pace with the times, but stick to a fixed mindset and ignore the development of the situation, we will never reach a conclusion that is in line with reality,” she added.

Legitimate government

During his interview, Shaheen sought to dismiss criticisms about the Taliban taking control without a proper democratic setup. “It shows the support of the people,” he said of the rapid pace at which the group had secured control over the vast majority of Afghanistan. He said that election was a concern for the future, adding he “would not rule out” polls. He urged the international community to “respect the will of the Afghan people” and recognize any government established by the Taliban.

The spokesman reiterated earlier statements from the Taliban guaranteeing women’s rights to education and work, stressing that “the honor of Afghans is safe.” To a query on the desperation of thousands of Afghans to escape the country’s new rules—clearly seen in the chaos at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport—Shaheen claimed that many had been “misled by rumors” suggesting they would be able to settle in the U.K. or U.S. if they boarded a flight.

“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,” he said, adding that the Muslims of Afghanistan were happy to be governed under strict sharia law.

On the issue of the International Monetary Fund and the U.S. announcing that the Taliban would not have access to financial support or assets stored in the U.S. Treasury, the spokesman said it was “an injustice” to the people of Afghanistan.  “We need the reconstruction of Afghanistan, the people of Afghanistan need the budget. The [central bank] shall need the budget,” he said.

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