The supreme leader of the Afghan Taliban, Sheikh Hibatullah Akhundzada, on Friday arrived in the capital, Kabul, for the first time since the group took control of Afghanistan in August last year.
Akhundzada, who has not been filmed or photographed in public since the Taliban’s return, spoke at a grand meeting of religious scholars and tribal elders on the second day that is discussing important issues.
Organisers said that over 3,000 scholars and influential personalities from across Afghanistan took part in the two-day moot which ended on Saturday.
During his speech, which was delivered in Pashto, the Taliban supreme leader defended his government’s policies and said that the Taliban had the right to fully implement the Islamic system.
“The establishment of an Islamic system is not only good news for the people of Afghanistan but for Muslims across the world. I had received messages of congratulations from Muslims across the world.”
Akhundzada said it had never been the objective of the Taliban to target Afghans during its resistance against foreign invaders. But those Afghans who were guarding foreign occupation, he continued, “we had no option but to fight them”.
“When the Americans left Afghanistan, we declared a general amnesty for all and told them that they were pardoned despite their brutalities against the Mujahideen,” the Taliban chief said.
He urged officials to end corruption in all government departments and avoid giving positions on the basis of favouritism and friendship.
“If such ills are part of our government, then it will be totally against the struggle we waged for the establishment of an Islamic system,” Akhundzada said.
He further went on to defend the policies of the Islamic Emirate and said the government was facing challenges from the international community.
“There would be more opposition to our government when we start implementing decisions of Islamic courts,” he said, adding that “we should not care about the world’s criticism but try to enforce the Islamic system.”
Earlier, speakers at the gathering vowed to defend their country despite external and internal challenges.
Afghan Prime Minister Mullah Hasan, in his address, urged the delegates to question those who were against the Islamic administration.
“Now, the Islamic system has been established, we must do all we can to strengthen it,” the state’s Bakhtar News Agency quoted the premier as saying.
“You are well aware that under the rule of the Islamic system, all those who used to fight the Mujahideen have been pardoned, but they still create troubles for our country from abroad,” he said.
Meanwhile, Afghan Defence Minister Mullah Yaqoob sought a religious decree from the participants for the solution to some problems. He asked the scholars to identify weaknesses in the implementation of the Islamic Sharia and urged them to suggest solutions.
“Neither any Islamic nor any non-Islamic country has recognised our system. Give us advice on how to formulate a foreign policy that could lead to the recognition of the government,” Yaqoob added.