KABUL: Afghanistan’s supreme leader renewed his call for the international community to recognise the Taliban government on Friday, saying the world had shrunk to the size of a “small village” and that proper diplomatic relations would aid in the resolution of the country’s problems.
No country has formally recognised the Taliban-installed regime since they seized power in August.
In a written message sent ahead of the Eid ul Fitr holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan, supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada avoided mentioning international issues, such as the reopening of secondary schools for girls.
Instead, he stated that recognition should come first “in order for us to address our problems formally and within diplomatic norms and principles.”
“Unquestionably, the world has shrunk to the size of a village,” said Akhundzada, who has not been seen in public for years and lives in seclusion in Kandahar.
“Afghanistan plays an important role in maintaining global peace and stability. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan should be recognised by the rest of the world in response to this need.”
His Eid message comes as the country has been rocked by a series of bomb blasts, some of which have been claimed by Daesh and have targeted the minority Hazara community.
Akhundzada made no mention of insecurity, but claimed that the country had built “a strong Islamic and national army,” as well as “a strong intelligence organisation.”
Connect aid to human rights
Many people in the international community want humanitarian assistance and recognition to be tied to the restoration of women’s rights.
Following the Taliban takeover, tens of thousands of women lost their government jobs, and they have also been barred from leaving the country — or even travelling between cities — unless accompanied by a male relative.
In March, the Taliban sparked international outrage by closing all secondary schools for girls just hours after reopening them for the first time since taking power.
According to several Taliban officials, Akhundzada personally ordered the ban.
The Eid message from Akhundzada did not mention girls’ schools, but he did mention that authorities were opening new centres and madrassas for both “religious and modern education.”
“We respect and are committed to all shariah rights of men and women in Afghanistan… do not use this humanitarian and emotional issue for political purposes,” he said.
However, he stated that people should embrace Taliban ideals voluntarily, rather than being forced to do so.
“In this regard, the relevant authorities should invite people to shariah with wisdom and avoid extremism,” he added.
He also stated that the government was committed to free speech in accordance with “Islamic values,” despite the fact that hundreds of news outlets have closed, public broadcasts of music have been banned, and movies and TV dramas starring women have been pulled from the air.
Akhundzada, who is believed to be in his 70s, has been the Taliban movement’s spiritual leader since 2016, but has remained hidden despite the Taliban’s largely uncontested power.
His absence from public life has fueled speculation that he is dead and that his edicts are the work of a committee.
Nonetheless, the Taliban released an audio recording of him addressing a madrassa in Kandahar in October.