Taliban warn US against prolonging occupation of Afghanistan
Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban movement has issued a warning to the United States against prolonging the withdrawal of its military beyond the declared deadline, meanwhile extending an amnesty to runaway president Ashraf Ghani and vice president Amrullah Saleh, saying they may return if they so wish.
"We forgive Ashraf Ghani, Amrullah Saleh and [former National Security Adviser] Hamdullah Mohib," senior Taliban leader Khalil Ur-Rahman Haqqani said in an interview on Monday with Pakistan-based Geo News broadcaster, insisting that "there is no enmity" between the group and the three former senior officials.
Ghani fled Afghanistan just before the Taliban’s swift takeover of Kabul last week. He was later reported to be in the United Arab Emirates.
"We forgive everyone from our end; from the general (who fought in the war against us) to the common man," Haqqani further reiterated.
Promising that the Taliban intend to establish a government that would represent all groups within Afghanistan, Haqqani also claimed that people from all schools of thought were pledging their allegiance to the group.
"Highly capable, educated people will form the government in Afghanistan," he vowed. "People who unite the masses will be included in the new government."
He went on to call on Afghans fleeing the country to stay, pointing out that the "enemy" was spreading propaganda that the Taliban will exact revenge on them. "Tajiks, Balochs, Hazaras and Pashtuns are all our brothers," he said.
The official noted that they only took up arms after American forces invaded their homeland and fought against the country as well as its culture and religion.
"The Americans were using weapons against us, on our homeland," he said, adding that those weapons were now in the hands of the militants as spoils of war.
He further boasted how the Taliban had accomplished a massive victory over the US-trained Afghan army, which consisted of 350,000 troops and was backed by American and NATO forces.
The Taliban said hundreds of militants were dispatched to conquer Panjshir Valley, north of Kabul, which remains the lone territory in Afghanistan that has resisted the Taliban takeover.
Saleh is reportedly in Panjshir, and photos posted on social media in recent days have shown him in talks with resistance leader Ahmad Massoud.