Taliban’s foreign minister claims freedom for Afghan people amid activist criticisms

At an event in Mashhad, Iran, Taliban’s acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amir Khan Muttaqi, asserted that people in Afghanistan live freely, insisting that “no one has anything to do with anyone.” He further stated that there are currently no political prisoners in the country.

Muttaqi declared, “Nationalism and nepotism have ended all over Afghanistan. We are all Afghans and Muslims. No one is asked where you are from and where you are going. Only criminals are caught. Other people are free to live wherever they are and whatever they do.”

Meanwhile, Muttaqi encouraged immigrants to return to Afghanistan, assuring that “only criminals are arrested” in the country.

“All immigrants, all Afghans, whoever comes, should not worry. We pardoned even the generals, governors, and ministers who stood in the war, wore bags, and martyred our Mujahideen. Also, those who are in detention will be released. We do not have a political division in all of Afghanistan,” he stated.

However, civil society activists contested these claims, asserting that the Taliban represses opponents and arrests women advocating for their rights.

Shafiqa Razmanda, an activist, criticized the Taliban, describing them as “an illegitimate group, non-committed and irresponsible to the citizens.” She pointed to the decrees against women’s rights, the ban on women’s education, and their exclusion from society.

“Taliban in Afghanistan, as a non-committed and irresponsible group to the citizens, issued the most decrees and orders regarding women’s work and banned women’s education, their presence in society, and generally excluding them from society,” she said.

Sohaila Irfani, a former professor at Herat University’s Journalism Faculty, challenged the Taliban’s denial of discrimination, highlighting the increasing discrimination, particularly against the Persian language.

“Contrary to the Taliban’s claims that there is no discrimination against Afghan citizens, we see that, unfortunately, it is increasing every day. One of its instances is anti-Farsi sentiments, hostility towards the Persian language. And this hostility actually shows the discrimination and racism of the ruling regime,” Irfani explained.

Since August 15, Taliban officials have frequented foreign trips to Iran. Notable figures, including Abdul Ghani Baradar, Taliban’s deputy chief minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, Abdul Latif Mansour, the acting minister of energy and water, and Nooruddin Azizi, the acting minister of industry and commerce, have visited Iran.

Muttaqi, the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, has been in Iran for the past four days, emphasizing efforts to enhance economic, transit, and trade relations with Iran in recent remarks.