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Islamic human rights organisation, Muslim Rights Concern, has said the Taliban should be given a chance to govern chaos-torn Afghanistan after President Ashraf Ghani fled the landlocked Asian country on Sunday, abandoning the presidential palace to Taliban fighters.
MURIC Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, stated this in a chat with The PUNCH on Tuesday.
According to him, the Taliban has learnt its lessons and be allowed to govern Afghanistan in as much as it would not walk the path of extremism and terrorism as it did 20 years ago before its dethronement by US forces.
The Professor of Islamic Eschatology at the Lagos State University also alleged that the United States deceived and used some Afghans to gain ground in the country, achieve its “nationalistic aim” of axing some Taliban leaders including Osama bin Laden and then abandon the locals.
On Sunday, Taliban militants retook Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, about two decades after they were driven from Kabul by US troops. Before then, Taliban militants seized about 20 cities in the country following the withdrawal of US troops beginning in early July.
Who are the Taliban?
Sunday’s takeover of Kabul saw the civilian government led by President Ghani fleeing the country, saying that the Taliban have won, adding that he left to avoid bloodshed.
Formed in 1994, the Taliban were made up of ex-Afghan resistance fighters, known collectively as the Mujahedeen, who fought the invading Soviet forces in the 1980s. They imposed their interpretation of Islamic law on the country and resisted foreign influence.
The Taliban first captured Kabul in 1996 and the Sunni Islamist organization mandated women to wear head-to-toe coverings, women were also not allowed to study or work and were forbidden from travelling alone.
On September 11, 2001, 19 Taliban fighters hijacked four commercial planes in the US, crashing two into the World Trade Center towers, amongst other places. Over 2,500 people were killed in the attacks, according to CNN.
The attack was orchestrated by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The US responded with swift fury and invaded Afghanistan, aiming to stop the Taliban from providing a safe-haven to al Qaeda — and to stop al Qaeda from using Afghanistan as a base of operations for terrorist activities.
US mission in Afghanistan was to get 9/11 attackers, not nation-building – Biden
In the 20 years since they were ousted from power, the Taliban, now led by Mawlawi Akhundzada, waged an insurgency against the allied forces and the US-backed Afghan government.
Speaking on Monday, incumbent US President Joe Biden said he stood by his decision to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan, adding that the troops cannot be dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight themselves.
Biden also stressed that the objective of the US under the then government of President George Bush had been fulfilled.
“We went to Afghanistan almost 20 years ago with clear goals: get those who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001, and make sure Al Qaeda could not use Afghanistan as a base from which to attack us again. We did that. We severely degraded Al Qaeda and Afghanistan. We never gave up the hunt for Osama bin Laden and we got him,” he stated at a presidential address on Monday.
However, in an interview with The PUNCH on Tuesday, MURIC Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, accused America of fleeing the country after deceiving Afghans for 20 years.
He said, “America deceived Afghans by using them to dig in in Afghanistan. After invading Afghanistan, America remained there for 20 years with the support of some locals. Now, what have they (Afghans) gained from it?
“America has no problem, it is its national interest as far as America is concerned.”
Why I am in support of Taliban’s return – Don
When asked whether he was in support of the takeover of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Akintola said, “Yes, I am in support. And I will explain. The Taliban are Afghanistans; it is their country, it is not America’s. Just as Nigerians have the right to be in their own country. They were driven to the countryside by American invading forces.
“Now, American forces have fled, that is the way to put it because that is exactly what they did. Biden just said America did not come into Afghanistan for nation-building; it is quite insulting and irritating. You fool a whole country for 20 years?
“While we support the return of the Taliban, we will not support extremism and terrorism in any form.
“When I talk about extremism, I am talking about the rights of women. The Taliban often infringe on the rights of women like denying them the right to education but Islam encourages education and the daughter of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) was a foremost educationist. She related the hadiths of the prophet after his passing. So, if women should not be educated, Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) would not have educated his own daughter.
“The fact that the Taliban discouraged women’s education was a minus for them but I believe they have learnt their lessons because their spokesman yesterday was talking about allowing women to go to school, allowing women to work because Islam encourages education and Islam does not condone idleness and they have the right to work and own properties.”
Ghani was corrupt, had no business remaining in power’
The don also said the ousted civilian president of Afghanistan was corrupt and had no business in government.
“Ghani was corrupt. Ghani and his cabinet were exploiting the Afghanis and America knew that the government was corrupt, yet it was supporting a corrupt government because it was not its skin that was being removed, it looked the other way.
“Ghani had no right remaining president particularly with the allegations of corruption levelled against him.
What is left is for the Taliban to form a moderate government, an inclusive government that will not marginalise any section of the Afghanistan community. The Taliban must pursue moderation and eschew all acts of terrorism,” Akintola said.
Can the Taliban abandon terrorism, extremism?
When our correspondent asked him whether it was possible for the Taliban to pursue moderation and eschew extremism considering the fact that the militant group has been alleged to sponsor terrorism in some parts of the world including Africa, Akintola retorted, “I see your comments to be speaking from an impression, a past perspective that you hold about them. We are talking about a new Taliban, the future is what we should be looking at. We should give them a chance, in any case, we don’t have a chance; they’ve taken over. So, smearing their image and holding on to the propaganda of the West is not the best.”
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