Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid has said that the Haqqani network and Taliban are “inseparable”. Speaking to The Sunday Guardian from an undisclosed location, which is likely to be near the Tora-bora mountains of Eastern Afghanistan, Zabihullah said that media reports that the Daeh (ISIS) has taken over Tora-Bora is false and that the Taliban is engaged in fighting with them as of now. Excerpts.
Q: How well entrenched is the ISIS in Afghanistan? And in which parts of Afghanistan?
A: Daesh does not have any significant presence in Afghanistan and conditions are also not in their favor. However, US occupation forces intentionally seek the spread of Daesh phenomenon in Afghanistan, because whenever the Afghans pick up weapons against Daesh and push them to the brink, US airplanes arrive and begin bombing the tribal fighters with whom our Mujahideen are also sometimes present, which results in the withdrawal of tribal fighters and survival of Daesh.
Daesh has very limited area under control in some border and mountainous districts of Nangarhar province, surviving due to the difficult mountainous terrain and with the help of American airpower.
Q: Is the Taliban still fighting them?
A. Yes, the Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate are fighting Daesh at this very moment in multiple areas of Nangarhar province, however, the reason for the slow and tactical nature of the fighting is due to American airpower and troops helping Daesh.
Q: Has Taliban lost control of Tora Bora?
A. Daesh fighters had arrived at some areas of Tora Bora but were repelled and the Mujahideen are still engaging them at some points. Daesh’s claims of taking over Tora Bora are untrue and if the American airplanes desist from aiding Daesh fighters, we can expel them from the remaining areas very quickly.
Q: How good is the relationship between Taliban and the Haqqani network?
A. The Mujahideen of the famous national Mujahid figure, Jalaluddin Haqqani, are an inseparable part of the Islamic Emirate to the extent that his eldest son, Mullah Sirajuddin Haqqani, is the deputy leader of the Islamic Emirate. They do not have a separate network. Spreading propaganda in this regard and calling them a separate network is the work of western intelligence agencies.
Q: How much of Taliban’s action are based on what the Pakistan government tells them?
A. None of the actions of Taliban are done at the orders of Pakistan nor is there a need for such a thing. You are well aware that Pakistan is an ally in the coalition against Taliban. All propaganda in this regard is the plots of intelligence agencies which seek to damage the independent status of the Islamic Emirate and tarnish the image of Islamic Emirate among the masses. In reality, these allegations do not have any bases and I reject them categorically.
Q: The Taliban has been blamed for targeting the Indian embassy and consulate offices in Afghanistan. Has the Taliban carried out these attacks? If yes, then why?
A. These attacks which have happened over the past 16 years have been responded to at that particular time and our involvement and non-involvement has also been clarified at that time.