The Taliban said on Sunday that they were committed to peace talks, adding they wanted a “genuine Islamic system” in Afghanistan that would make provisions for women’s rights in line with cultural traditions and religious rules.
The statement came amid slow progress in the talks between the hardline Islamic group and Afghan government representatives in Qatar and as violence rises dramatically around the country ahead of the withdrawal of foreign forces by September 11.
Officials have raised concerns over the stalling negotiations and have said the Taliban has not yet submitted a written peace proposal that could be used as a starting point for substantive talks.
“We understand that the world and Afghans have queries and questions about the form of the system to be established following withdrawal of foreign troops,” said Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the head of the Taliban’s political office, in the statement, adding the issues were best addressed during negotiations in Doha.
“A genuine Islamic system is the best means for solution of all issues of the Afghans,” he said. “Our very participation in the negotiations and its support on our part indicates openly that we believe in resolving issues through (mutual) understanding.”
He added that women and minorities would be protected and diplomats and NGO workers would be able to work securely.
“We take it on ourselves as a commitment to accommodate all rights of citizens of our country, whether they are male or female, in the light of the rules of the glorious religion of Islam and the noble traditions of the Afghan society,” he said, adding that ‘facilities would be provided’ for women to work and be educated.
It was not clear whether the Taliban would allow women to carry out public roles and whether workplaces and schools would be segregated by gender. The group’s spokesman did not immediately to respond to request for comment.
In May, US intelligence analysts released an assessment that the Taliban “would roll back much” of the progress made in Afghan women’s rights if the Islamist extremists regained national power.
Before being ousted by the 2001 US-led invasion, the Taliban imposed a harsh version of Islamic rule that included barring girls from school and women from working outside their homes and prohibiting them from being in public without a male relative.
Earlier, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday warned that “if the Taliban want enmity then they will face a serious response.”
While introducing the new ministerial nominees for the Ministries of Defense and Interior, President Ghani said the Taliban should decide in what way they want to proceed: by seeking a political solution or continuing “enmity.”
“The Taliban must choose: do you want to be in the future based on a lasting and just peace based on a political solution with dignity or do you want enmity, to which this nation will give a strong response? No one should doubt this,” he said.
He criticised the recent Taliban attacks on various parts of the country – and the targeting of civilians.
Addressing the Taliban, he said: “Why are you targeting public facilities, bridges and small bridges? Why are you placing roadside mines that kill women and children?”
“Why are you burning schools and the district governor office? Isn’t the answer as clear as the sun? Do you work for others?” he mentioned.
Meanwhile, he said that the new changes in the Ministries of National Defense and Interior are intended to strengthen the security institutions.
“We all know that martyrdom on the way to the homeland is an honor, but we want life, not death for a country that is deprived of it’s most basic right, which is peace.
“There is a clear need for a national, regional and international dialogue to be implemented across the country, the region and the world to say: “Is 43 years (of war) not enough?” he said.
“Here we must conclude that we will not surrender to the terrorists, we will not surrender to the grim plans, we are the future-makers, we are shaping the future,” he concluded.