The Taliban Sunday defended a controversial widespread door-to-door raid in and around Kabul, claiming it was aimed at catching criminals and disarming the Afghan capital.
Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban government’s top spokesman, also announced that they would not allow any more Afghans to be evacuated until the living conditions abroad for those who have already left Afghanistan improved.
The security operation, which went into action on Friday, focused on urban residential areas and several adjacent provinces, sparking panic and outrage among residents of those locations.
Some residents have claimed that the Taliban are targeting security officials from the now-defunct Afghan government in the name of fighting crime. Others have complained of “misconduct” by security forces and see the operation as an invasion of their privacy.
On Sunday, Mujahid dismissed the allegations as propaganda from opponents of Afghanistan’s new regime, telling reporters in Kabul that the security forces are “exercising the utmost diligence” and their only role is to ensure public safety.
“Because of the changes we have seen, we believe that once this operation is complete, there will be no need to conduct such activities in the future,” Mujahid said when asked if the house-to-house searches in the capital would become routine for the time being.
He argued that many people owned or kept guns in their homes and that once the operation was complete, people would not have easy access to guns due to “laws and vigilance” by state security institutions.
“Inshallah (God willing) this will be the last operation and lead to safety,” he said.
Mujahid said the operation had been “successful” and will be completed soon. It has led to the seizure of hundreds of light and heavy weapons, including rocket launchers and grenades, 13 armored vehicles and tons of explosives, he added.
The spokesman said dozens of outlaws, including several members of the Islamic State terrorist group, were also arrested and arrested.
Although it has been difficult to ascertain the veracity of the Taliban’s claims, Kabul is considered one of the most heavily armed cities in the world. Upscale housing areas are known for harboring notorious Afghan warlords, drug traffickers and palatial homes built by former officials accused of massive corruption during their tenure.
“The intimidation, house searches, arrests and violence against members of different ethnic groups and women are crimes and must stop immediately,” tweeted Andreas von Brandt, EU Ambassador to Afghanistan.
No more evacuations
Mujahid also said Sunday that families wanting to leave Afghanistan would now need “legitimate reasons” to do so, insisting the Taliban had not promised anyone the evacuation process would go on indefinitely. He argued the Taliban had received reports of tens of thousands of Afghans living “in very poor conditions” in Qatar and Turkey.
“Originally, we said that Americans could … take in people they thought might have concerns about … But that’s not a continuous promise.”
“It is the government’s responsibility to protect its people [evacuations] will be stopped until we have assurance that their lives will not be endangered,” Mujahid said.
More than 120,000 Afghans and dual nationals have been evacuated since the last US-led foreign troops pulled out of the country in late August, days after the Western-backed government in Kabul and its security forces collapsed and the Taliban invaded the capital to defeat the to take power.
Most of the evacuated people worked for American and allied western forces. Fearing Taliban reprisals, these Afghans fled when the United States and its allies left Afghanistan after 20 years.
An unspecified number of Afghans with similar connections remain in the country, desperate to leave the country for security reasons. Taliban leaders have dismissed these concerns, citing a blanket amnesty they announced for all Afghans immediately after the capture of Kabul.
The United Nations says more than 100 people with links to the former government, including military personnel, have been killed by the Taliban, the group denied.
restrictions on women
Mujahid said Afghan women are barred from traveling abroad unless accompanied by a male escort.
“This is the order of Islamic Sharia law,” he said, adding that Taliban officials are studying ways to ensure the order does not affect women who may be awarded scholarships to study abroad.
The Hardline group has already imposed various restrictions on women, such as a ban on long car journeys unless accompanied by a close male relative. But unlike their previous rule from 1996 to 2001, when women were denied education and jobs, this time the Taliban have allowed female students to return to universities and promised that all female secondary school children will be back in classrooms by the end of March.
Female government employees in the health and education sectors have also been allowed to return to their offices, while the rest have been ordered to stay at home until further notice. Taliban officials have cited financial constraints and a lack of accommodation in line with Sharia or Islamic law to allow women to work in a safe environment.
In his speech on Sunday, Mujahid also welcomed a recent US decision to ease restrictions on Afghan banks and allow money transfers for Afghan business owners and others, but exempt individual Taliban members from terrorist international sanctions.
The US and other Western governments have seized some $9.5 billion in Afghan foreign exchange reserves, most of which are held in the US, since the Taliban returned to power. They have also suspended foreign financial aid to Afghanistan, an aid-dependent economy, causing economic upheaval and worsening the war- and drought-ravaged country’s already dire humanitarian crisis.