Home Latest News Taliban Have ‘High Regard’ for China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Zabihullah Mujahid

Taliban Have ‘High Regard’ for China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Zabihullah Mujahid

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo of Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid

In separate interview, spokesman Suhail Shaheen says Taliban have right to speak for rights of Muslims everywhere, including in Kashmir

Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has described China as “our most important partner,” adding that Beijing is ready to invest in and rebuild the war-torn state.

“China is our most important partner and represents a fundamental and extraordinary opportunity for us, because it is ready to invest and rebuild our country,” he told Italian publication La Repubblica in an interview published on Thursday. Referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s flagship Belt and Road Initiative—which seeks to connect China with Africa, Asia, and Europe through a network of ports, railways, roads and industrial parks—he said it was held in “high regard” by the Taliban.

There are “rich copper mines in [Afghanistan], which, thanks to the Chinese, can be put back into operation and modernized,” said Mujahid. “In addition, China is our pass to markets all over the world,” he added.

This isn’t the first time the Taliban have expressed a desire to see greater linkages between China and Afghanistan. On Aug. 19, Taliban spokesman in Doha Suhail Shaheen told China’s state television that Beijing could contribute to the development of Afghanistan.

During his interview, Mujahid reiterated that there would be no ban on women studying in universities, adding they could also work as nurses, in the police, or as assistants in ministries. However, he stressed, there would be no women ministers in government.

Rights of Muslims

In a separate interview via video-link, Taliban spokesman Shaheen told BBC Urdu that the group had the right to raise its voice for the plight of Muslims everywhere, including in Kashmir.

To a question, he said that the Taliban did not have any policy to raise arms against any other country. However, he added, “we have this right, being Muslims, to raise our voice for Muslims in Kashmir, India, and any other country.”

He said that the Taliban would urge other countries to recognize that “Muslims are your own people, your own citizens. They are entitled to equal rights under your laws.”

To another question on the Haqqani Network’s links with the Taliban, he claimed there was “no such group” and they were now “a part of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.”

The Taliban took control of Kabul on Aug. 15, culminating a swift takeover of Afghanistan from the Western-backed government of former president Ashraf Ghani. The collapse of Kabul provoked a massive crisis, as foreign states scrambled to evacuate their citizens, even as Afghans struggled to find any safe passage out of the country.

There has also been growing concern about a lack of any formal government in the country, with the Taliban indicating they would announce a new administration as early as today (Friday).

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