With China’s help, the Taliban will fight for an economic comeback in Afghanistan, Zabihullah Mujahid told the Italian newspaper.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has told an Italian newspaper that the group will primarily rely on funding from China following the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and its takeover of the country.
In his interview published by La Repubblica on Thursday, Mujahid said the Taliban will fight for an economic comeback with China’s help.
The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, on August 15, when the country’s Western-backed government melted away, bringing an end to 20 years of war amid fears of economic collapse and widespread famine.
Following the chaotic departure of foreign troops from Kabul airport in recent weeks, Western states have strictly limited their aid payments to Afghanistan.
“China is our most important partner and represents a fundamental and extraordinary opportunity for us because it is ready to invest and rebuild our country,” the Taliban spokesman said in the interview.
He said the new Silk Road – an infrastructure initiative by which China wants to increase its global influence by opening trade routes – was held in high esteem by the Taliban.
There are “rich copper mines in the country which, thanks to the Chinese, can be put back into operation and modernized. In addition, China is our passport to markets around the world. “
Mujahid also confirmed that women will be allowed to continue studying at universities in the future. He said women would be able to work as nurses, in the police or as assistants in ministries, but ruled out that there would be female ministers.
Andrew Small, senior transatlantic fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States Asia Program, said China’s engagement in Afghanistan would depend on political stability.
“China is not providing large-scale aid; it will provide aid in modest conditions, it will provide humanitarian aid, and it will not save a new government,” he told Al Jazeera.
“It may make some investments on a smaller scale, but the long-term investments will depend on there being sufficient stability in the country and sufficient security in the country for these to become something that is economically viable,” he added.
“So there are still some restrictions on what China will be willing to do economically, even if it continues to be happy, and the Taliban are eager to send these signals that China is willing to swing into the scale. “
Afghanistan desperately needs money, and it is unlikely that the Taliban will have quick access to the around $ 10 billion. USD in assets here, which are mostly held abroad by the Afghan central bank.
Earlier this week, UN chief Antonio Guterres warned of a looming “humanitarian catastrophe” in Afghanistan and called on countries to provide emergency assistance as severe drought and war have forced thousands of families to flee their homes.
Guterres expressed his “serious concern at the growing humanitarian and economic crisis in the country”, adding that basic services threatened to collapse “completely”.
“Now more than ever, Afghan children, women and men need the support and solidarity of the international community,” he said in a statement on Tuesday as he called for financial support from nations.
“I urge all Member States to dig deep for the people of Afghanistan in their darkest distress. I urge them to provide timely, flexible and comprehensive funding, “said the UN Secretary-General.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the current $ 1.3 billion UN humanitarian appeal to Afghanistan is funded by only 39 percent.