Islamabad Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid has said that they will approach Pakistan “as a brother and neighbour”, seeking “comprehensive ties based on mutual respect”, if they end up having a say in the Afghan polity one day.
In an exclusive interview to Dawn news, Mujahid acknowledged that Pakistan had remained “the most important hub” for Afghan refugees during the Soviet invasion, and that it was even considered a “second home” by Afghans.
In the interview, he also outlined the motivation for talks with the US, the conditions in which they are prepared to negotiate and their vision for a new political order, while insisting that the Taliban are holding talks with Washington “on their own initiative”.
“There is no role being played by any outside country. This has always been our own initiative and policy.”
Mujahid said that even prior to the US invasion in 2001, the Taliban had asked Washington to engage in dialogue instead of war.
“But Washington had been unwilling to negotiate at the time,” he told Dawn.
The Taliban spokesperson said that despite the ongoing talks, the group had not yet reached any conclusion that would entail an immediate end to hostilities.
“We are forced to wage war. Our enemies are attacking us; therefore, we are also combating them.”
The spokesman also spoke on the status of women in Afghanistan.
He said the Taliban envisioned an “Islamic society” and wanted to prepare a framework of rights “that do not violate Islamic principles and are accorded to all male and female members”.
“The intellectual capacity of people has expanded and a lot of experiences have been gained; hence there shall be no problems in affording women and men all their rights in the future.”