Spokesperson of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan Zabiullah Mujahid’s FIRST-EVER interview WITH any Pakistani newspaper after Taliban took over government in Kabul
Kaswar Klasra Our Correspondent from Kabul
Pakistan Observer: Can you tell us how the US invasion of Afghanistan has affected Afghanistan in the past 20 years? What substantial injuries have been caused to Afghanistan’s politics, society, infrastructure, and people?
Zabiullah Mujahid: In the name of Allah, the Merciful. First of all, I thank you for coming to interview us. The second thing is that, naturally, in every country that falls under slavery. The respected people of that nation are dishonoured. They are humiliated and killed. The foundations and buildings of his people are destroyed. The economy is severely traumatized, and its independence is under question.
All these calamities and misfortunes we have experienced in the past twenty years have caused great losses to Afghanistan. We are grateful to Allah that period of slavery has ended for us. But we paid a very high price for it.
Pakistan Observer: The United States claims that it restored peace and stability in Afghanistan after its armed invasion of Afghanistan. What do you think of this?
Zabiullah Mujahid: This is not correct. During the last twenty years, the US and NATO forces failed to bring peace and prosperity to Afghanistan.
Let me tell you that hundreds of innocent people were killed every day, and more than 100 houses were destroyed every week. Additionally, thousands of Afghans were put in prison.
The peace only made its way to our homeland after the US withdrawal. We have maintained law and order across the country soon after giving birth to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. And now, Afghanistan has become a stable country.
Pakistan observer: After the withdrawal of US troops, drones continue to attack all parts of Afghanistan.
Media reports say that US drone strikes have killed and injured many innocent Afghan people. Is this true?
Zabiullah Mujahid: Unfortunately, it is true. Afghanistan has been physically freed from the American forces. However, their drones are still infringing on the air space of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. We have also condemned this move in our announcements and called it a loss for both countries.
Recent drone attacks killed several innocent civilians. In many cases, drones attacked our civilians. They claimed to have assassinated “Zawahiri”, but this has not been proven yet. We have also protested and complained. We have asked Americans to immediately stop drone strikes.
America and Afghanistan should move forward for a new peaceful life and lay the groundwork for establishing good relations. Flying drones, invading air space, or trespassing under the border is harmful. Afghans do not accept it, and it should be stopped.
Pakistan Observer: Do you think it is America’s real goal to end the war in Afghanistan? Which people or organizations do you think have benefited from this war?
Zabiullah Mujahid: The war in Afghanistan ended on the day when the American forces left Afghanistan. There is no war in Afghanistan following the US withdrawal. Of course, some small criminal groups are still carrying out anti-state activities in remote areas of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan. But please note that this can happen in any country. The Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan has successfully maintained law and order across the country. Yet, some small groups, including separatists, smugglers, and “Takfiri” groups, are carrying out activities. We are dealing with them accordingly. So far, many criminals have been caught, punished, and stopped.
Pakistan Observer: The United States has said that it has invested a huge amount of money to help Afghanistan rebuild. Is this true?
Zabiullah Mujahid: No, this is not correct. The US-led war damaged the Afghanistan infrastructure to great extent. It adversely impacted the life of Afghans. The people who lived in the cities became poor. War brought poverty and misery to Afghanistan.
If they had built infrastructure, we would have factories. The number of unemployed people would not be so high. Let me make it loud and clear that no work was done on the infrastructure, even the buildings they built for military operations were made of wood. The roads they built to transport their soldiers were also built in a very superficial way. The Americans did not do any basic work in Afghanistan to improve its infrastructure. What we see in Kabul or other big cities has been done by the Afghan traders themselves. The sensitive people of Afghanistan did it on their own. They spent from their pocket.
Pakistan Observer: In the name of counter-terrorism, the United States attacks al-Qaeda groups active in Afghanistan. What do you think of this? Do you think al-Qaeda has a presence here?
Zabiullah Mujahid: The US attacked Kabul, and it was claimed that Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda, was targeted there. To date, it has only been a claim. Not proven yet. I don’t think such a group (al-Qaeda) or such individuals are present in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
We also had made commitments in the Doha Agreement. Based on those commitments, we do not allow anyone to use the territory of Afghanistan against the United States and its allies or other countries.
It is not in our interest. We are serious about this and will prevent it ourselves. There is no need for the Americans to come and operate in Afghanistan or to show concern about Afghanistan.
As a responsible government, we have a responsibility not to allow the use of Afghanistan soil against anyone in the world.
Pakistan Observer: How does the Taliban government plan to restore the Afghan economy caused by the war?
Zabiullah Mujahid: The Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan is putting all available resources into developing the country’s economy. All our experts in the sectoral ministries, scholars and experts who have expertise in different fields are putting their energies into the revival of the economy of Afghanistan. I am confident that their efforts will put Afghanistan’s economy on track.
For example, the Qoshtipeh Canal is a very big basic and economic project, which we have started with a lot of strength. So far, 15% of the work has been completed.
The Kabul-Herat highway, which is a very long road, and the Salang road are under construction. In the railway sector, we are planning to extend the railway from Uzbekistan to Pakistan. The survey is about to start.
The TAPI project, which is a very important project, will be surveyed. It will start soon, and it will reach Herat. Other projects, including KASA 1000 and other projects, are very important. I think these projects if completed on time, would put the economy of Afghanistan on track.
Pakistan Observer: The United States had staged a debate on human rights in Afghanistan at the United Nations to cancel relations with the alliance of Arab and African NATO countries that forcibly occupied Afghanistan. It has refused to refund to return Afghanistan’s foreign reserves. What is your opinion on this?
Zabiullah Mujahid: We have already mentioned that the policy of the Islamic Emirate is that a new page should be started with the United States, which must not be a page of war and conflict. Rather this should be a page of transaction, interaction, and the creation of positive diplomatic relations.
Islamic Emirate is very serious about it. There are certain issues, including the travelling sanctions by the US on some of our members. We want the US to reconsider such restrictions as they are not positive.
We hope that the US could change this policy. We invite the United States and the rest of the world, which do not have a good relationship with us, to sit with us across the table to discuss issues. We can solve all the problems through positive interaction.
Pakistan Observer: Any message to the people of the world, especially Americans.
Zabiullah Mujahid: We are in favour of interaction, creating positive relations, and dialogue.
The common people of America should also understand that the people of Afghanistan are not their enemies. And we don’t want to be hostile to them. They imposed war on Afghanistan.
We have passed that period. Now we want to start a period of good interaction. The people of the US, as well as the imposers of war, are responsible for what the common Afghans had to suffer during the war.
Now, we want businessmen to come to Afghanistan to invest. Afghanistan is rich in natural resources. It offers great opportunities the investors. We are ready to remove Americans’ concerns through dialogue.
We want the Americans to stop their rulers and politicians from jumping into conflict with us. Let me tell you, the people of America and Afghanistan do not have problems between them. On behalf of our people, I invite the government and the people of the US to interact with us. Let’s begin a new chapter of prosperity and a great future.