Afghanistan’s acting PM says those who worked alongside US should return, Taliban promises safety

Mohammad Hasan Akhund, a senior Taliban leader recently named acting prime minister in Afghanistan, has called on Afghans who fled the country for their own safety to return and promised the safety of diplomats, embassies, and humanitarian relief institutions– a questionable commitment at best from the terror group.

“We have suffered huge losses in money and lives for this historic moment in the history of Afghanistan. The stage of bloodshed, killing and contempt for people in Afghanistan has ended, and we have paid dearly for this,” Akhund told Al Jazeera in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.

The terrorist group is representing itself as moderate in an effort to establish positive and strong relationships with countries in the region and beyond according to Al Jazeera. Akhund doubled down on the Taliban’s promise of amnesty for anyone who has worked alongside the United States and the administration it recognized.

“[In] such tense circumstances, it is easy to do what you want. But the movement is disciplined and controls its gunmen. And, we have not harmed anyone because of his previous actions,” the senior Taliban leader said.

Actions being reported from the ground seem to prove otherwise. The Taliban has painted humiliating murals on the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan, earlier this week they grounded a rescue plane reportedly holding at least one hundred Americans “hostage”, they’ve been accused of murdering a pregnant police officer in front of her family and of mass killings of U.S. allies, and they have joyfully flaunted mock American and British coffins in the street.

“Therefore, I assure the Islamic nation, especially the Afghan people, that we want all the good, the causes for success and welfare, and we seek to establish an Islamic system,” Akhund added, asking “everyone to participate with us in this blessed project”.

The Taliban is presenting itself as a caretaker government despite the appointment of numerous Taliban to leadership roles and the exclusion of women.

Sirajuddin Haqqani, for example, a terrorist leader of the Haqqani network, has been appointed interim interior minister. The FBI has a $10 million bounty on his head and it is reported that he is holding an American hostage.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), did not mince words when calling the makeshift Taliban government a “lineup of thugs and butchers.”

Notably, Akhund is still on several international terror lists and “had a very senior role pre-9/11” according to Asfandyar Mir, an analyst at the U.S. Institute for Peace.

On Tuesday, supreme leader Haibatullah Akhunzada claimed the Taliban was committed to all international laws, treaties, and commitments that were not in conflict with Islamic law in his first public statement.

He also maintained the group’s commitment to  “lasting peace, prosperity and development,” adding “people should not try to leave the country”.

As of Thursday morning, the Taliban will reportedly allow 200 American civilians and others seeking visas to leave Afghanistan. The departures are expected from Kabul later in the day according to Reuters.

Kay Apfel

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