The Taliban have offered a pledge of reconciliation, vowing no revenge against opponents and to respect women’s rights in a “different” rule of Afghanistan from two decades ago.
The announcements came on Tuesday night shortly after the return to Afghanistan of their co-founder, crowning the group’s astonishing comeback after being ousted by a US-led invasion in 2001.
With huge concerns globally about the Taliban’s brutal human rights record — and tens of thousands of Afghans still trying to flee the country — they held their first press conference from Kabul.
“All those in the opposite side are pardoned from A to Z,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told foreign and local reporters, revealing his identity for the first time.
“We will not seek revenge.”
Mujahid said the new regime would be “positively different” from their 1996-2001 stint, which was infamous for deaths by stoning, girls being banned from school, and women from working in contact with men.
“If the question is based on ideology and beliefs, there is no difference… but if we calculate it based on experience, maturity, and insight, no doubt there are many differences,” Mujahid told reporters.
He also said they were “committed to letting women work in accordance with the principles of Islam”, without offering specifics.
A spokesman for the group in Doha, Suhail Shaheen, told Britain’s Sky News that women would not be required to wear the all-covering burqa, but he did not say what attire would be acceptable.