The Taliban has declared an “amnesty” across Afghanistan and urged women to join their government in its first official comments on governance after the group's blitz ended with the fall of Kabul.
The Taliban has announced an "amnesty" across Afghanistan and urged women to join its government within the limits of "Shariah law", trying to calm nerves across a nervous capital city that only the day before saw chaos at its airport as people tried to flee their rule.
The announcement on Tuesday was made by Enamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban's cultural commission.
“The structure of government is not fully clear, but based on experience, there should be a fully religious leadership and all sides should join.”
While there were no major reports of abuses or fighting in Kabul, many residents have stayed home and remain fearful after the insurgents’ takeover saw prisons emptied and armouries looted.
Older generations remember their hardline Islamic views, which included stonings, amputations and public executions during their rule before the US-led invasion that followed the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Women could be included in government
“The Islamic Emirate doesn't want women to be victims,” Samangani said. “They should be in government structure according to Shariah law.”
That would be a departure from the last time the Taliban were in power, when women were largely confined to their homes.
Samangani didn't describe exactly what he meant by Shariah, or Islamic, law, implying people already knew the rules the Taliban expected them to follow.
He added that "all sides should join” a government.
It was also not clear what he meant by an amnesty although other Taliban leaders have said they won’t seek revenge on those who worked with the Afghan government or foreign countries.
But some in Kabul allege Taliban fighters have lists of people who cooperated with the government and are seeking them out.
Rupert Colville, a spokesperson for the United Nations' high commissioner for human rights, noted both the Taliban's vows and the fear of those now under their rule.
“Such promises will need to be honoured, and for the time being — again understandably, given past history — these declarations have been greeted with some scepticism,” he said in a statement. “Nevertheless, the promises have been made, and whether or not they are honoured or broken will be closely scrutinized.”
He added: “There have been many hard-won advances in human rights over the past two decades. The rights of all Afghans must be defended.”
Across Afghanistan, the International Committee of the Red Cross said thousands had been wounded in the fighting.
Security forces and politicians handed over their provinces and bases without a fight, likely believing the two-decade Western experiment to remake Afghanistan would not survive the resurgent Taliban.
The last American troops had planned to withdraw at the end of the month.
“The world is following events in Afghanistan with a heavy heart and deep disquiet about what lies ahead,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Stefano Pontecorvo, NATO's senior civilian representative to Afghanistan, posted a video online showing the runway empty with American troops on the tarmac.
What appeared to be a military cargo plane could be seen in the distance from behind a chain-link fence in the footage.
The runway "is open,” he wrote on Twitter. “I see aeroplanes landing and taking off.”