South Asia and Beyond

“Those Trying To Sabotage Afghan-India Ties Won’t Achieve Goal, Taliban Not Controlled By Anyone”

Kabul: A rare, comprehensive, in-person interview in Kabul of Zabihullah Mujahid, Spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan(IEA) in conversation with StratNews Global(SNG) Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi. SNG reports in Afghanistan have been filmed by Producer and Video Journalist Rohit Pandita. This discussion is part of the SNG series, ‘Taliban 2.0: One Year On. From Winning The War To Governing’.

Like most journalists across the world, we have also been in touch with Zabiullah Mujahid over a landline and then mobile phone, through texts and via various messaging apps since he was appointed the Taliban Spokesperson in January 2007 after the arrest of his predecessor, Muhammad Hanif. But, none of us knew what he looked like. Till August 17, 2021. That’s the day he appeared live on tv screens across the globe, giving the first press conference of the new Taliban government. He was sitting in the chair that Dawa Khan Menapal, the director of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s media and information centre sat in, until he was killed by the Taliban earlier the same month. For over a decade American and Afghan officials would tell us he(the Taliban spokesperson we were dealing with) was not one person or he had been killed several times and replaced by another person who assumed the same name. In June 2011, U.S. officials told ‘The New York Times’ they preferred to call him “the Zabihullah persona,” because he was not the same man but a team of Taliban operatives based in a Pakistani call centre. Well, he is a person and here’s an in-depth interview in Kabul.

Zabihullah Mujahid talks about the Taliban seizing power a year ago, their control over the country, the security situation, security guarantees given to the Indian government, relations with Pakistan, independence from anyone’s control, not allowing any interference in internal affairs, rebuilding ties with America, the freezing of ‘Da Afghanistan Bank’s’ $ 9.5 billion, the June 18, 2022 attack on a Kabul gurudwara, who is behind attempts to sabotage India-Afghan relations, economic reconstruction after over forty years of war and conflict, engagement versus recognition of the de facto government, sanctions, investment, opportunities in the mining sector, China, BRI and CPEC, pledges against allowing terrorist groups sanctuary in Afghanistan and the consequences of continuing U.S. air strikes. President Joe Biden announced the killing of Al Qaeda head and Osama bin Laden’s successor Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul on August 1 this year.

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