The Taliban believe their rule is open-ended and don’t plan to lift the ban on female education

Taliban fighters patrol the road Tuesday during a celebration marking the second anniversary of the withdrawal of U.S.-led troops from Afghanistan, in Kandahar, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Abdul Khaliq)

People protest on Tuesday in Parliament Square at the anniversary of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in London. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The Taliban view their rule of Afghanistan as open-ended, drawing legitimacy from Islamic law and facing no significant threat, their chief spokesman said in an interview marking the second anniversary of the Taliban takeover of the country. He also indicated a ban on female education will remain in place.

Zabihullah Mujahid brushed aside any questions from The Associated Press about restrictions on girls and women, saying the status quo will remain. The ban on girls attending school beyond sixth grade was the first of what became a flurry of restrictions that now keep Afghan women from classrooms, most jobs and much of public life.


The Taliban seized power on Aug. 15, 2021, as U.S. and NATO forces withdrew from the country after two decades of war. To mark the anniversary, Tuesday was declared a public holiday. Women, largely barred from public life, didn’t take part in the festivities.

In the southern city of Kandahar, the spiritual birthplace of the Taliban, military personnel posed with armored vehicles. Young men rode through the city on bicycles, motorcycles and cars, waving flags and brandishing weapons. Toddlers clutched small white Taliban flags bearing a photo of Defense Minister Maulvi Mohammad Yaqoob on the bottom right corner.

In the capital, Kabul, pick-up trucks crammed with men and boys wound their way through the city. Men swarmed Martyrs Square, taking selfies and clambering onto a monument. Boys posed with rifles.

Over the past two years, it has become increasingly apparent that the seat of power is in Kandahar, the home of supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, rather than the Taliban-led government in Kabul.

The interview with Mujahid took place late Monday in a TV studio on a rundown former military compound in Kandahar. The U.N. Mission in Afghanistan and local government departments are located nearby.

The Taliban spokesman arrived in a white SUV, accompanied by a guard and a driver. He spoke calmly and politely, falling back on Taliban talking points on issues like women’s rights and international recognition.

“There is no fixed term for the Islamic government,” he said of Taliban rule, which he claimed draws legitimacy from Islamic law, or Sharia. “It will serve for as long as it can and as long as the emir (the supreme leader) isn’t removed for doing something that goes against Sharia.”

Taking stock after two years, Mujahid said Taliban rule faces no threats from inside or outside the country. He claimed the current government is acting responsibly, and that Afghans crave consensus and unity. “There is no need for anyone to rebel,” Mujahid said.

In a statement Tuesday, the Taliban government listed what it considered its accomplishments, including restoring a sense of personal safety and national pride.

The statement made no mention of the tens of thousands of Afghans who fled in the aftermath of the takeover or the severe economic downturn and deepening poverty as international aid dried up.

At the same time, the Taliban appear to have settled in, avoiding internal divisions and even keeping their struggling economy afloat.

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