The Taliban vowed Tuesday to respect women’s rights, forgive those who resisted them and ensure a secure Afghanistan as part of a publicity blitz aimed at convincing world powers and a fearful population that they have changed.
Following a lightning offensive across Afghanistan that saw many cities fall to the insurgents without a fight, the Taliban have sought to portray themselves as more moderate than when they imposed a brutal rule in the late 1990s. But many Afghans remain skeptical — and thousands raced to the airport on Monday, desperate to flee the country.
Older generations remember the Taliban’s ultraconservative Islamic views, which included severe restrictions on women as well as public stonings and amputations before they were ousted by the U.S-led invasion following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
As others have in recent days, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid addressed these concerns head-on in his first news conference Tuesday.
Mujahid, who had been a shadowy figure for years, promised the Taliban would honor women’s rights, but within the norms of Islamic law, though he gave few details. He said the group wanted private media to “remain independent,” but stressed journalists “should not work against national values.”
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