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Interview with Taliban spokesperson for foreign affairs Abdul Qahar Balkhi

Annisa Essack | kzn@radioislam.org.za
4 min read | 16:30

Photo Credit: Japan Times
Grave of Mullah Omar

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 ousted the Taliban from power in Afghanistan but returned to power last year.

In 2015, Taliban leaders admitted that Mullah Omar had died in 2013, and after nine years, the Taliban finally revealed the location of the burial site of its founder.

The Taliban released pictures of its leaders paying tribute to Mullah Omar at his grave in the Suri district of Zabul province near Omarzo.

Radio Islam International’s Moulana Sulaimaan Ravat interviewed Abdul Qahar Balkhi, the Taliban’s spokesperson for Foreign Affairs. The latter said: “The Qabr of Mullah Omar was recently revealed because the conditions were right for it to be publicised. Prior to this, we faced an enemy that was so brutal in its actions that not even the dead were saved from their attacks. They bombed not only weddings and funerals, but they would also desecrate graveyards.”

Speaking on the transition, Balkhi said that it went well, and things were running smoothly from the start.

However, the challenges he mentioned included the sanctions placed on the country by the West and assets stolen and frozen, causing an economic challenge.

He disagreed with the narrative that the Taliban government is struggling due to funding restrictions, causing disillusionment among the citizens. Balkhi admitted to economic challenges and explained that seventy-five per cent of the previous administration’s budget constituted foreign donations. He alleges the money has “disappeared, ” affecting NGOs and foreign offices that assisted the needy.

However, he added that a train and air corridor now allows trade with countries like China, Iran, and Pakistan. He explained that poverty has increased but mainly in the urban areas.

Relations with the West are still explorative, and discussions are at a stage where opportunities are mutually beneficial for Afghanistan and other countries.

Regarding relations with neighbouring countries, Balkhi says that these focus on non-interference in internal affairs and are looking to improve and bring positive change.

Speaking of the relationship between Pakistan’s current government and Afghanistan, he reiterated that the Afghan government had a principled policy and position that ensures mutual relations and the relationship has remained stable.

Regarding whether Afghanistan would foster relations with Africa and South Africa, Balkhi said they are presently focusing on their immediate priorities but are building links in Africa and South Africa.

Balkhi called the freezing of their assets a blatant theft as the monies belonged collectively to the people and were required for the central bank to operate effectively. He says efforts are continuing to have the funds released.

Asked about whether efforts were being made via media strategies by the Afghanistan government to clarify some perceptions and notions, Balkhi says their approach is multifaceted, multipronged, and not limited to media when dealing with the international community.

Listen to the exclusive interview on the Sabahul Muslim Show with host Sulaiman Ravat speaking to Abdul Qahar Balkhi, the Taliban’s spokesperson for Foreign Affairs.

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