The Taliban said it’s getting “political support” from China and Russia, which have recognized the group as a “great political and military force,” amid ongoing leadership deliberations that are expected to conclude in the coming days.
The Taliban’s media spokesperson Suhail Shaheen told Sky News from Doha that the new rulers of Afghanistan haven’t received financial support from Pakistan, China and Russia, but enjoy “good relations with them.”
In an interview by video link on Tuesday, Shaheen added: “We are getting political support. We visited China and also Russia. You may have seen the reports. They said the Taliban are a great political and military force of Afghanistan.”
“That is a reality. And also, they supported us. This we are getting,” he added.
The Taliban official said the group is maintaining its commitment not to attack withdrawing U.S. forces, but said the timeframe of the pullout had already been violated.
On Monday, President Joe Biden warned of a “swift and forceful” response by the U.S. if the Taliban harmed American personnel.
Shaheen said: “I think they should get their troops out of Afghanistan. They have already violated the timeframe which was enshrined in the Doha agreement, then they announced that they will withdraw all their forces [by] September 11. So they should withdraw all their forces, but we are committed not to attack them. And we have not attacked them.”
Videos emerged of chaotic scenes from Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport on Monday as thousands of Afghans breached barriers and engulfed the runway, with many climbing airplanes in hope of leaving the country ahead of the Taliban takeover.
A shocking social media video also showed several dozen people clinging to the landing gear of a U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo plane as it taxied on the runway ahead of takeoff. Additional footage appeared to show people falling from the sky, having failed to hold on as the airplane reached altitude.
Shaheen told Sky’s Jayne Secker that the U.S. was to blame for the harrowing incident.
“I think that was for the Americans to maintain security, not to allow all those to enter the airport. Because our forces were not there, we were not responsible. They were responsible. It was their airplane, not ours. All those, they belong to them, not to us.”
The Taliban has since taken over security at the airport. Shaheen said the area was now “in an orderly manner.”
According to the spokesperson, the Taliban’s swift takeover of Afghanistan, from the outer provinces to the capital, was due to the Afghan public and the security forces losing trust in the government of ousted President Hamid Karzai.
“Because we had the people’s support. The Kabul administration was corrupt,” Shaheen said. “We are closer to the people, rather than them. They were people whose families were living in other countries … This created a huge gap between them and the people.”
“The security forces had two choices: either to support this … corrupt administration, or join us. They chose to join us. After that, you saw [the] falling of district after district; province after province.”
He told Sky that a decision about who will lead the Taliban from Kabul will be taken on the basis of ongoing leadership consultations and deliberations, which are expected to conclude “in two, three days.”
The Taliban has guaranteed rights to women, Shaheen said, including of education, work and freedom of speech. However, he described the wearing of a hijab as an Islamic rule rather than a choice afforded to every woman.
“A woman being a Muslim, she has to, according to the rules of Islam, wear [a] hijab,” he said. “It is not something that we have imposed from ourselves on women. It is something at the basis of the holy Quran, in the rules of our religion.”
Shaheen said the people of Afghanistan require economic assistance to lift them out of poverty. He called for an “international conference of donor countries.”
Afghans “want to open a new chapter,” he added. “A chapter of peace, peaceful coexistence, [and the] reconstruction of Afghanistan.”
World leaders “should respect the aspirations and will of the people of Afghanistan and help the people of Afghanistan in rebuilding the country,” Shaheen added. “I think this is their obligation because they were behind the destruction of Afghanistan during the 20 years, so now it is their moral obligation to also help to reconstruct Afghanistan, and to help the people to start a new life in a new chapter of Afghanistan.”
Taliban fighters patrol along a street in Kabul on August 17, 2021, as the Taliban moved to quickly restart the Afghan capital following their stunning takeover and told government staff to return to work. WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images