Taliban demand recognition as leader appears for first time

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid speaks at his first news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 17, 2021. (Photo by AP)

The Taliban have warned that a failure by the United States and other countries to recognize their government in Afghanistan and unfreeze Afghan assets abroad would lead to problems not only for the war-torn country but for the rest of the world.

“Granting recognition to the current system is the right of Afghans and no one can deprive us of this right nor will it benefit anyone,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told a news conference in Kabul. 

“Our message to America is, if non-recognition prolongs, problems of Afghanistan prolong, it is the regional problem and could eventually become a problem for the world,” he added.

Mujahid also underlined that Taliban leaders had conveyed the same message to US officials in a meeting in Qatar earlier this month, saying, “We are hoping they will consider it and, God willing, this issue will be resolved.”

Pointing to the rights of women and minorities in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, Mujahid said that young girls in many Afghan provinces have returned to school and the issue is gradually being resolved for others across the country.

“But we will not give this right to foreigners to direct us about how our girls should undertake educational activities. That is an internal Afghan matter,” he said. “We are part of the global community and we have fulfilled all the conditions required for the world to formally recognize our government."

On September 7, the Taliban announced the formation of a caretaker government in Afghanistan.

No country has formally recognized the Taliban-controlled government in Afghanistan since the group took over Kabul in mid-August following the abrupt withdrawal of US-led NATO forces from the country and the conclusion of a two-decade-long invasion.

The shock seizure came while billions of dollars in Afghan assets and funds abroad have been frozen, even as the country faces severe economic, political and security crises.

The Taliban’s seizure also led to the escape of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, causing a power vacuum that gave rise to domestic tensions and the Daesh terrorist group taking advantage of the chaos.

The ongoing violence has plunged Afghanistan into a dire situation, with international aid agencies calling for urgent action to support millions of struggling Afghans.

Taliban's leader appears, belying death rumors

Meanwhile, Taliban supreme commander Haibatullah Akhundzada reportedly made a rare public appearance in the southern city of Kandahar on Saturday.

Taliban sources told Reuters that Akhundzada, who had not been seen in public even after the Taliban's August takeover, visited the religious school Jamia Darul Aloom Hakimia in Kandahar.

Akhundzada’s long absence had given rise to speculations about his death.

Though some Taliban officials said Akhundzada has made unpublicized public appearances before, Saturday’s visit was the first confirmed appearance of a man who has long kept a low public profile.

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