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The deadline for troops to withdraw from Afghanistan is just days away and the desperate evacuation of people is running out of time.
The Taliban has met with Sky News in Doha to discuss what happens next – and issued a stark warning about the withdrawal of troops from the country.
Taliban spokesperson Dr Suhail Shaheen said: “It’s a red line. President Biden announced that on 31 August they would withdraw all their military forces. So if they extend it that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that.”
He added: “If the US or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations – the answer is no. Or there would be consequences.
“It will create mistrust between us. If they are intent on continuing the occupation it will provoke a reaction.”
It comes as Boris Johnson is set to personally plead with Joe Biden to extend a deadline for US troops leaving Afghanistan to allow more people to flee the reign of terror of the Taliban.
Meanwhile, desperate scenes grow at Kabul international airport. People prepared to leave everything and risk their lives to escape life under the militant group’s rule.
When pressed on this issue – that people clinging onto an aircraft leaving the country is far from routine during a political transition – Dr Shaheen dismissed it as economic migration.
He said: “I assure you it is not about being worried or scared.
“They want to reside in western countries and that is a kind of economic migration because Afghanistan is a poor country and 70% of the people of Afghanistan live under the line of poverty so everyone wants to resettle in western countries to have a prosperous life. It is not about [being] scared.”
But fear is something we are hearing time and time again from Afghan citizens and refugees.
Video footage emerging claiming to show the Taliban going door to door threatening people and seeking former government workers. We’re hearing girls’ schools have been closed in some provinces.
“All fake news,” said Dr Shaheen in response to those reports. “I can assure you there are many reports by our opponents claiming what is not based on realities.”
In recent days 300 students – mostly girls – have been evacuated to Qatar for their safety. Women have fought hard for their rights in Afghanistan – for an education, a career, basic freedoms and opportunities. But many women and girls are now terrified of what they stand to lose under Taliban rule.
Dr Shaheen said: “They will lose nothing. Only if they have no hijab, they will have a hijab… women are required to have the same rights as you have in your country but with a hijab.”
When pressed on this issue that nothing will change, Dr Shaheen is insistent: “Now, women teachers have resumed work. Lost nothing. Female journalists they have resumed their work. Lost nothing.”
Female broadcasters have been seen back on air since the Taliban took control of the country. But there are many other accounts of women who say they’re too scared to return to work or have been told to stay at home.
There is a fear that conditions in the country will deteriorate after international troops and foreign media pull out.
And as that date fast approaches for British, American and NATO forces to leave Afghanistan, I asked what the Taliban would say to the families of those who died trying to help Afghanistan.
Dr Shaheen said: “They occupied our country. If we occupy your country. What you will say to me? What if I killed your people in your country what you will say? I think all people suffered a lot. Bloodshed. Destruction. Everything. But we say the past is the past. Part of our past history. Now we want to focus on the future.”
Source: Sky News