New Delhi: The Taliban would like to “strongly reassure” the world that their land would not be used as a threat to anyone, the Taliban’s Acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani told CNN in an interview Tuesday.
Asked about recent ISIS-linked attacks in Afghanistan and if the country would be used as a base for terrorism, Haqqani told CNN’s Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour: “Here, we have internal threats and some are deliberately elevating the threats to portray them as a cause for concern for the nation and the international community.”
He added: “There can be threats to the rest of the world that are orchestrated by a government but we would like to strongly reassure everyone that our land will not be used as a threat to anyone.”
Haqqani, whose father Jalaluddin founded the US-designated terror group Haqqani Network, is on the United Nations’s sanction list. He is also on the FBI’s most-wanted list, and in the past, the agency had offered up to $10 million for information on the militant leader.
The Interior Minister is also accused of being involved in an assassination attempt on former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai in 2008.
Haqqani has made only one public appearance in March, during which he addressed the graduation ceremony of newly-recruited police personnel. Prior to that, his face was either covered or blurred in photos of events that he attended.
Speaking to CNN, he said that the Taliban had all intentions for a peaceful takeover of power but that the former Ashraf Ghani-led government, “with assistance from some other circles, sabotaged our particular plan…”
The US has a $10 million reward for the arrest of Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is now the acting Interior Minister of Afghanistan. In an exclusive interview, I asked Haqqani about this and whether Afghanistan will again become a base for international terrorism. pic.twitter.com/Yyz9kwxfB8
— Christiane Amanpour (@amanpour) May 16, 2022
The Haqqani chief also said the Taliban does not view the US as an enemy, but “based on their conduct, Afghans have reservations about their intentions”.
‘We keep naughty women at home’
While discussing women’s rights, the Taliban Minister joked that there was a need to keep “naughty women” at home.
“The international community is raising the issue of women’s rights a lot. Here in Afghanistan, there are Islamic, national, cultural and traditional principles. Within the limit of those principles, we are working to provide them with opportunities to work — that is our goal. By saying “naughty women”, it was a joke referring to those naughty women who are controlled by some other sides to bring the current government into question,” said Haqqani,” Haqqani said.
His statement comes weeks after the Taliban issued a decree urging women to stay at home or wear the burqa if they had to go out.
Asked about Afghan women taking to the streets to protest decrees issued by the Taliban in recent months, Haqqani described it as movements “provoked from outside”.
On the issue of reopening girls’ secondary schools, he said this depends on dress codes to ensure women’s “honour and security”, and that the Taliban regime is currently working on mechanisms for this.
‘Sanctions pushing Afghan people into poverty’
Haqqani added that Afghan women weren’t the only ones facing poverty and unemployment in the country. “Half of our Mujahideen comrades have not got employment either,” he said.
“The issue of women’s rights has been frequently highlighted. But, what has created these obstacles are international sanctions and the lack of official interaction with the world community. This has pushed a lot of people into poverty and joblessness,” he said.
The US, UN and other world powers had responded with crushing economic sanctions when the Taliban seized Kabul last year. The Joe Biden-led administration also froze roughly $7 billion in Afghan government reserves held in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.