The Afghan Taliban said they are committed to peace talks as officials raised concerns over the stalling negotiations between the militants and government representatives in Qatar ahead of foreign troops' withdrawal in September.
The Taliban has said they have been committed to peace talks, adding they wanted a "genuine Islamic system" in Afghanistan that would make provisions for women's rights in line with cultural traditions and religious rules.
The statement came amid slow progress in the talks between the radical fighting movement and Afghan government representatives in Qatar and as violence rises dramatically around the country ahead of the withdrawal of foreign forces by September 11.
Officials have raised concerns over the stalling negotiations and have said the Taliban has not yet submitted a written peace proposal that could be used as a starting point for substantive talks.
"We understand that the world and Afghans have queries and questions about the form of the system to be established following withdrawal of foreign troops," said Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the head of the Taliban's political office, in the statement, adding the issues were best addressed during negotiations in Doha.
"A genuine Islamic system is the best means for solution of all issues of the Afghans," he said. "Our very participation in the negotiations and its support on our part indicates openly that we believe in resolving issues through (mutual) understanding."
He added that women and minorities would be protected and diplomats and NGO workers would be able to work securely.
"We take it on ourselves as a commitment to accommodate all rights of citizens of our country, whether they are male or female, in the light of the rules of the glorious religion of Islam and the noble traditions of the Afghan society," he said, adding that 'facilities would be provided' for women to work and be educated.
It was not clear whether the Taliban would allow women to carry out public roles and whether workplaces and schools would be segregated by gender.
The group's spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In May, US intelligence analysts released an assessment that the Taliban "would roll back much" of the progress made in Afghan women's rights if the extremists regained national power.
Before being ousted by the 2001 US-led invasion, the Taliban imposed a harsh version of Islamic rule that included barring girls from school and women from working outside their homes and prohibiting them from being in public without a male relative.
Ghani replaces security ministers
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani replaced two top ministers charged with managing the country's faltering security Saturday, as the Taliban pressed on with their campaign to capture new territory in fierce battles with government forces.
The shake-up of the defence and interior ministry portfolios comes as violence surges and peace talks remain deadlocked, with the Taliban claiming to have seized more than 40 districts in recent weeks across the rugged countryside.
The presidency announced in a statement that General Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, who fought under the late anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud during a 1990s civil war, has been appointed the new defence minister.
Spoke to Afghan Foreign Minister @MHaneefAtmar this morning at @AntalyaDF about security challenges facing the country, #Turkey offer to provide security for Kabul airport and whether there is regional consensus on way for forward for #Afghanistan #Meet4Diplomacy pic.twitter.com/4guG6BqcXy— Tanya Goudsouzian (@tgoudsouzian) June 19, 2021
Abdullah Abdullah says pullout will embolden Taliban
The Afghan government’s chief peace envoy expressed fears on Friday that the Taliban will have no interest in a political settlement with the US-supported administration in Kabul after the scheduled departure of American and NATO forces.
Abdullah Abdullah, head of Afghanistan’s National Reconciliation Council, said there were signs that the Taliban were seeking military advances ahead of the September 11 troop withdrawal.
He warned however that, if so, the militant group was making a “big miscalculation.”