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US will not force Taliban to replicate Western culture with frozen funds: Official

Published: Updated:

The US will not be able to force the Taliban to replicate and adopt Western cultures in Afghanistan through pressuring it using the country’s frozen funds, a member of the Taliban Political Commission told CNN.

“The frozen money is the people’s right. It doesn’t have anything to do with the government and politics. It’s the nation’s right. With frozen money they cannot make us copy and bring their culture here. It is in contradiction to our history, beliefs and traditions,” Anas Haqqani said in an interview with CNN.

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After the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan on August 15, the US froze almost $10 billion in Afghan gold, investments and foreign currency reserves.

Washington plans to use the frozen funds as means to pressure the Taliban to respect women’s rights and to govern the public in a lawful manner.

The Taliban have rejected interference into how it decides to govern Afghanistan from the international community, demanded the US release its frozen funds and asked the international community for aid to support the country’s ailing economy.

“We will not give up on our people’s rights… This is not [US President Joe] Biden’s right or the right of the US government for them to freeze [the funds],” Haqqani said.

He added: “If the world thinks they can put a lot of pressure on us through this matter [economic pressure]… it is a very wrong thinking. Sustenance is not in the hands of Biden, Europe, Russia or China. We are not panicking about this hardship.”

Afghanistan’s economy is under immense pressure, with prices of food and fuel rising sharply amid a shortage of cash, triggered by a halt in foreign aid and a drought.

Since seizing control of Afghanistan, the Taliban launched a charm offensive to rehabilitate their hardline image from their 1996-2001 era when they performed public executions, men who didn’t pray in mosques where whipped, women’s every day movements were restricted and an extreme interpretation of Islamic law, Sharia, was enforced.

However, it seems the Taliban are not changing much of their core values. Instead of forming an inclusive government, the group’s cabinet consisted only of senior group members.

The group also disbanded the Ministry of Women Affairs and brought back the Ministry of Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. It disbanded a lot of women’s protests with violence and delayed the return of female students to schools when male students already started classes.

A Taliban official also told The Associated Press that the group will bring back harsh punishments including executions and severing of limbs as punishments for crimes committed by the public in Afghanistan.

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