United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday said that his government will judge the Taliban by their actions instead of the insurgent group’s statements to the public, reported AFP.
“We will judge this regime based on the choices it makes and by its actions rather than by its words, on its attitudes to terrorism, to crime and narcotics, as well as humanitarian access and the rights of girls to receive an education,” Johnson said at an emergency debate in the House of Commons, the lower house of the UK Parliament.
The Taliban took control of Afghanistan on Sunday, entering the presidential palace in the capital Kabul and ending an insurgent offensive that ripped through the country in 10 days. The group made swift advances and captured key Afghan cities even as foreign troops prepared to withdraw from the country by the end of August. President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, reportedly to neighbouring Tajikistan.
On Tuesday, the Taliban held their first press conference, where they announced that there would be no discrimination against women and the group was committed to providing them rights based on Islamic law.
The group’s spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid added that the Taliban would not seek revenge from anyone, including ousted officials of the Afghanistan government. Mujahid also said that the Taliban wanted private media to remain independent, but asserted that journalists “should not work against national values”.
The announcements were seen as a major shift from their earlier policies when they were in power before being ousted in 2001. However, many countries are sceptical of the Taliban and have not yet arrived at a decision on recognising a Talibani government.
On Wednesday, Johnson echoed the same views in the House of Commons, saying leaders of Western countries, including United States President Joe Biden, had “agreed that it would be a mistake for any country to recognise any new regime in Kabul prematurely or bilaterally”.
Johnson added: “Instead, those countries that care about Afghanistan’s future should work towards common conditions about the conduct of the new regime before deciding, together, whether to recognise it and on what terms.”
‘Over 2,000 Afghans, 306 British citizens evacuated’
The prime minister also told the House of Commons that the UK has helped 2,052 Afghans escape the war-torn country and secured the safe return of 306 British citizens. He said that 2,000 more Afghan applications for repatriation were complete and many more were under process.
“UK officials are working round the clock to keep the exit door open in the most difficult circumstances and actively seeking those we believe are eligible but as yet unregistered,” Johnson said.
Johnson, however, faced criticism from MPs, including his own Conservative party, on the evacuations from Kabul.
Opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer said the government’s target of repatriating 20,000 refugees was too small, reported BBC. On Tuesday, the UK government had said it would resettle 5,000 refugees this year and 20,000 in the long term.
Ian Blackford, the leader of the Scottish National Party in the House of Commons, said that the future of Afghanistan had “never been so uncertain”, adding that it was the country’s “moral and ethical responsibility” to help more refugees.
Amid the criticism, Johnson claimed that it was not true that the UK government was unprepared or failed to foresee the situation happening in Afghanistan. “It would be fair to say that the events in Afghanistan have unfolded and the collapse has been faster than even the Taliban themselves predicated,” the prime minister said.
He also claimed that the core mission of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, an intergovernmental military alliance, in Afghanistan was successful with the conflict-torn country largely being cleared of al-Qaeda terrorists.
He also said the NATO had ensured women’s rights, free elections and better education for the residents.
Following the Taliban’s takeover, chaotic scenes had unfolded in the country as thousands fearful of Taliban rule desperately thronged the airport in an attempt to flee the war-torn country. At least five people were reportedly killed amid the chaos at the Kabul airport. Some videos showed horrifying images of at least two people who tried to escape Kabul by clinging to a plane fall after takeoff.
Several countries, including India, have evacuated their citizens from Afghanistan amid a scramble to leave the country hit by a political crisis. But many more are still stuck in the war-torn country and are fearing for their lives.