AN aerial view of an Afghan refugee camp inside the US military base in Ramstein, Germany.—Reuters
AN aerial view of an Afghan refugee camp inside the US military base in Ramstein, Germany.—Reuters

KABUL: The Taliban on Monday called on former members of the Afghan forces to integrate with the new hardline rulers.

“The Afghan forces who were trained in the past 20 years will be asked to rejoin the security departments alongside Taliban members,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told a press conference in the capital Kabul.

The spokesman added that any insurgency against their rule would be “hit hard”, after earlier saying they had captured the Panjshir Valley — the last pocket of resistance.

“The Islamic Emirate is very sensitive about insurgencies. Anyone who tries to start an insurgency will be hit hard. We will not allow another,” Mujahid said.

“Anyone who picks up arms and start another resistance, without any doubts, will be our enemy.

“The war has ended, the country is getting out of the crisis. It is now time for peace and reconstruction. We need the people to support us.” Three weeks after seizing power but with no government so far announced, the spokesman said an “interim” system would first be announced to allow for changes.

“Final decisions have been taken, we are now working on the technical issues,” he said.

“We will announce the new government as soon as the technical issues are resolved.” A key issue for the Taliban is the reopening of the airport in Kabul, which was the scene of a massive US-led evacuation plan that ended last week.

Qatar has been working with the Taliban on getting the airport back up and running, and Mujahid said “serious efforts” were under way to restore operations.

“Technical teams from Qatar, Turkey and UAE are working hard to repair the equipment,” he said, adding international flights would resume “soon”.

Since their sweep to power last month, the Taliban have been met with widespread condemnation from the international community, with many fearing the government will be similar to the brutal regime of 1996 to 2001 when they were first in power.

Mujahid told the journalists at the press conference that “Afghanistan has the right to be recognised”.

“The international community should open their embassies in Kabul,” he said.

Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2021

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