An extension of the evacuation from Afghanistan will mean an extension of the occupation, and this will trigger a reaction, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shahin warned in an interview with British Sky News. As he claimed, people trying to leave the country want to leave for economic reasons, not for fear. He also repeated his assurances that women in Afghanistan “will not lose anything”.
Suhail Shahin said August 31, set as the final date for US troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, is the “red line”. “If they cross that line, they are prolonging the occupation, although there is no need to do so,” he said.
– Should the US or the UK wish to have more time to continue the evacuation, the answer is no. Or there will be consequences – he added. As he said, “it will cause distrust between us.” If they intend to continue the occupation, it will provoke a reaction, he warned.
According to Shahin, people trying to leave Afghanistan are not leaving the country because of fear of the Taliban. – They want to live in Western countries, and this is a kind of economic migration, because Afghanistan is a poor country and 70 percent of Afghanistan’s people live below the poverty line, so everyone wants to move to Western countries to have a prosperous life. It’s not that they’re afraid, he assessed.
However, Sky News stressed that it is fear from Afghan citizens and refugees.
The Shahin also said that reports were false that the Taliban went door-to-door, threatening people and looking for former government employees, and closing girls’ schools in some provinces. “I can assure you that there are many reports by our opponents claiming something that has no basis in reality,” he said.
When asked about women’s rights in Afghanistan, the spokesman replied that “they will not lose anything”. – Only if they don’t have the hijab will they have the hijab. (…) Women must have the same rights as you [interviewing journalist – editor] in your country, but with the hijab – he added. – The teachers have now resumed their work. They lost nothing. The journalists resumed their work. They lost nothing – he assured.
Sky News points out that many Afghan women are either afraid to go back to work or have been told to stay at home. There is also concern that the situation will worsen after the withdrawal of international troops and foreign media.
When asked what the Taliban would say to the families of those who died trying to help the Afghans, Shahin said: “They occupied our country.” If we take your country, what will you tell me? And if I kill people in your country, what will you say?
– I think all the people suffered a lot. Bloodshed. Destruction. Everything. But we say the past is the past. Part of our story. Now we want to focus on the future, said a Taliban spokesman.
– I think the Taliban could agree to extend this deadline, maybe until September 11, maybe longer. It depends on the contacts between the United States and the Taliban, he said. As he stressed, “the Taliban want international troops to leave their country as soon as possible.” – It seems to me that they also want all people not to leave Afghanistan, at least the middle class, engineers, medics, journalists – he added.
He pointed out that “it is in their interest that this evacuation be completed as soon as possible, so they will be pressing the United States to meet the August 31 deadline.” – But it seems to me that the situation is so dynamic that anything else can happen and the Taliban would probably be able to make some further compromises.