Muhammad Suhail Shaheen appointed by the Taliban movement (outlawed in Russia) as Afghan’s ambassador to the UN, spoke in an interview with TASS about the upcoming activity of the Afghan Foreign Ministry, willingness to cooperate with the Russian business community, the rights of ethnic and religious minorities in the country and a general amnesty.
What can you say about the future of the Afghan embassies abroad? Are you planning to open new ones or close down those currently working?
We are not going to close down embassies. But as a government, of course we will transfer some of the diplomats from one embassy to another embassy, we will transfer them to the Foreign Ministry here. This is something normal.
These reshuffles will depend on just how good they work?
That is, it will have nothing to do with the previous government? The majority of diplomates were appointed by Ashraf Ghani…
No. We have assured them that they continue to work, but they really should work for the people of Afghanistan and its new government. If they violated the rules, of course it would be their fault, otherwise they can continue.
What could the next foreign embassy to reopen in Kabul?
It depends on them. But we expect not one foreign embassy, but many embassies will return. I can’t say who’ll be the first, I hope all the embassies and all the countries will be the first to return.
What can you say about the National Resistance Front? Is fighting still ongoing? If yes, are you ready to negotiate?
What they call National Resistance exists only on paper, there’s no place you can see them on the ground. They don’t really care about the people of Afghanistan, they care about some former rulers, they have no grassroot support. They depend on social media and spread fake news, this is it. But the people of Afghanistan have tasted them for the last 20 years, and they have really bad memories of their corruption, their warlord ways and all the misconduct they had. This is why people don’t want them to come back. Otherwise, we have announced general amnesty for all. As the Afghans, they can return and live in this country. This is the first time when people, whether they support the government or not, live peacefully in the country. There’s no one for taking revenge because of what they did in the past. Of course, if there are personal cases, that’s another story. But no person who worked for the government, for the Kabul administration in the past, is prosecuted or tracked.
What about the situation in the Panjshir valley?
The situation is normal and peaceful. Those who sit in the neighboring countries or in the west and publish something on social media are detached from the reality existing in Panjshir or other parts of the country.
Several days ago, you claimed the Taliban is ready to represent Afghanistan in the UN. Do you expect Russia as a permanent UN member could support this initiative?
Yes, we do expect that. We had and currently have good relations with Russian Federation, and we are expecting them to support the new government that has been formed in the result of our struggle for liberation of Afghanistan. We also have support of the Afghan people, and hope to have friendly relations with Russia and other regional countries. Based on this, we expect Russia and other countries will support us at the Credentials Committee of the UN, because this is good for the peace in Afghanistan and in the region, which is also of interest to Russian Federation.
Last week, three cargo planes delivered Russian humanitarian aid to Kabul. Is there any particular type of humanitarian aid Afghanistan needs now?
Certainly, we need medicines, because harsh winter is coming, and other humanitarian assistance, particularly from Russian Federation. We are expecting that. Similarly, we want Russian businessmen, investors and entrepreneurs to come to Afghanistan. We will welcome them and will provide necessary facilities. We have and will introduce investor-friendly laws in the country.
Just for the Russian or any foreign businessmen?
For any foreign country. The law works for all. But we will appreciate and welcome if the Russians invest in Afghanistan.
What’s your opinion about the evacuation of Russian citizens and Afghan students studying in Russia from Kabul?
This is up to them. We promised that any Afghan willing to leave Afghanistan or come to Afghanistan, provided that they have proper travel documents, would face no problem.
So the Afghans who work or study abroad can come back any time?
And you will welcome them?
The Taliban also promised to protect the rights of the ethnic and religious minorities in Afghanistan. Are you keeping your promises? What can you say about the current status of the Hazara community, for example?
Hazara people are Afghans, they are part of our society. They have the same right as I have in the frames of the law. We don’t discriminate any ethnic group living in Afghanistan, they are all Afghans and have the responsibility to rebuild this country. Now there is an opportunity for all the Afghans to use their skills for rehabilitation of Afghanistan, for bringing about prosperity and well-being to the country. I think it’s better for all the Afghans who are in the foreign countries to come back and work for their people.
How long, to your mind, the current government will be functioning?
The government is now fully functioning, as you can see. There is security, the offices are open and operating. It’s up to foreign governments to recognize this government, the government of the people of Afghanistan. We resisted occupation for 20 years, thanks to the support of our people, both moral and financial, and their sacrifices. Our nation is freedom-loving, we want independence. All countries should also support independence of Afghanistan, and aspirations of its people, and work with the new government, because we created opportunities to do so. We created opportunities for other countries to come to Afghanistan. As you know, Afghanistan is rich in minerals, and we have opened the gate for cooperation and investment in this sector, and we will also welcome investment in the field of education and reconstruction of Afghanistan. We have provided numerous investment opportunities, now it’s up to them, to come and take the initiative.
Which countries do you expect to invest in mining in Afghanistan?
We provided opportunities for all, including the United States and the European countries. But first of all, we expect regional countries to be the first movers.
Can you say the destruction of Buddha statues in Bamiyan 20 years ago was a mistake?
It’s past now. Let’s leave the past to the past.