In the first news conference after taking Kabul, the Taliban says it seeks no revenge and that “everyone is forgiven," adding, the group is committed to letting women work "in accordance with the principles of Islam."

In front of a Taliban flag, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, center, speaks at his first news conference, in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 17, 2021.
In front of a Taliban flag, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, center, speaks at his first news conference, in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 17, 2021. (AP)

Afghan soil will not be used against any country and no one will be allowed to threaten the security of other nations, the Taliban said in its first press conference after taking control of Kabul.

Taliban's spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, who had been a shadowy figure for years, said the group holds no grudges against anyone both internally and externally.

He said Taliban insurgents sought no revenge and that “everyone is forgiven.” 

Women's rights

Mujahid doubled down on the Taliban's efforts to convince the world that it has changed from the group that imposed a brutal rule on the country in the 1990s.

Mujahid promised the Taliban would honour women’s rights, but within the norms of Islamic law. He said the group wanted private media to “remain independent,” but stressed journalists “should not work against national values.” And he promised the insurgents would secure Afghanistan — but seek no revenge against those who worked with the former government or with foreign governments or forces.

READ MORE: Does the Afghanistan debacle end the US War on Terror?

“We assure you that nobody will go to their doors to ask why they helped,” he said.

"The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is ready to provide women with environment to work and study, and the presence of women in different (government) structures according to Islamic law and in accordance with our cultural values,” he said.

But, some women are wary of the Taliban promises.

"They have to walk the talk. Right now they're not doing that," Afghan girls' education activist Pashtana Durrani, 23, told Reuters, referring to assurances that girls would be allowed to attend schools.

"If they limit the curriculum, I am going to upload more books to (an) online library. If they limit the internet ... I will send books to homes. If they limit teachers I will start an underground school, so I have an answer for their solutions."

Some women have said that one test of the Taliban's commitment to equal rights would be whether they give them political and policy making jobs.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who survived being shot in the head by a Pakistani gunman in 2012 after she campaigned for girls' rights to education, said she was deeply concerned about the situation in Afghanistan.

 "I had the opportunity to talk to a few activists in Afghanistan, including women's rights activists, and they are sharing their concern that they are not sure what their life is going to be like," Yousafzai told BBC Newsnight.

Media and security

Mujahid said that they are committed to the operations of media within the cultural framework and that private media can continue activities freely and independently provided nothing is against Islamic or national values or unity. 

He said media should be impartial and free to critique our shortcomings and should not showcase ethnic differences. 

On provision of security, Mujahid said all embassies, foreign country missions and aid agencies will be provided security as they don't want to see chaos in Kabul.

Following a blitz across Afghanistan that saw many cities fall to the insurgents without a fight, the Taliban have sought to portray themselves as more moderate than when they last ruled. 

READ MORE: How the Taliban’s economic engine fueled them to power

Earlier, Enamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission, promised amnesty and encouraged women to join the government.

But many Afghans remain skeptical. Older generations remember the Taliban’s ultraconservative Islamic views, which included severe restrictions on women as well as public stonings and amputations before they were ousted by the US-led invasion following the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

The capital of Kabul remained quiet for another day as the Taliban patrolled its streets and many residents stayed home, fearful after the insurgents’ takeover saw prisons emptied and armories looted.

'Caretaker' president

Afghan First Vice President Amrullah Saleh said on Tuesday he was in Afghanistan and the "legitimate caretaker president" after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country as Taliban insurgents took the capital Kabul.

Saleh told a security meeting chaired by Ghani last week that he was proud of the armed forces and the government would do all it could to strengthen resistance to the Taliban.

But the country fell to the Taliban in days, rather than the months foreseen by US intelligence.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Saleh said that it was "futile" to argue with US President Joe Biden, who has decided to pull out US forces.

He called on Afghans to show that Afghanistan "isn't Vietnam & the Talibs aren't even remotely like Vietcong".

READ MORE: UN calls for ban on forced returns of Afghans to conflict-torn nation