The Taliban on Monday said that Afghans who worked with foreign forces have nothing to fear once international troops leave, as long as they “show remorse.”
Thousands of Afghans have received visas to live abroad after serving alongside US and NATO troops — particularly as interpreters — but hundreds more are scrambling to leave before US President Joe Biden’s Sept. 11 withdrawal deadline.
In the past few weeks, many interpreters have demonstrated in Kabul, demanding foreign forces and embassies that they worked with help them relocate.
“They shall not be in any danger on our part,” the Taliban said in a statement. “The Islamic Emirate would like to inform all the above people that they should show remorse for their past actions and must not engage in such activities in the future that amount to treason against Islam and the country.”
While Afghans were viewed as foes when they worked with foreign forces, they will not face any issues “when they abandon enemy ranks,” the statement said.
“Hence they should not remain fearful,” it added.
Over the past two decades, dozens of Afghan translators have been killed and tortured in targeted assaults by the Taliban.
Afghan interpreter Mohammad Shoaib Walizada, who worked with the US army, dismissed the Taliban’s assurance.
“I don’t believe the Taliban... They are targeting journalists and media workers, why would they spare us?” Walizada told reporters.
“They never stick to their word or promise. They will take their revenge, because they consider us agents or spies,” he said.
“They are tracking us,” Omid Mahmoodi, an interpreter who worked with US forces from 2018 to last year, told reporters last week.
“The Taliban will not pardon us. They will kill us and they will behead us,” he said.
Another interpreter Omar, who worked with the US embassy for about 10 years, feared that without leaving the country, he would not evade the Taliban for long.
“I regret working for the US. It was the biggest mistake of my life,” said Omar, who asked reporters not to use his full name. “My own uncle and cousins call me an agent of America.”
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