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In his annual statement issued on the eve of Eid Al-Fitr, Haibatullah Akhundzada, the emir of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Afghan Taliban organization), has said that the two-decade jihad in Afghanistan is "near realization" as America and its allies are set to withdraw foreign troops from the country.
Eid Al-Fitr is the annual festival marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and is likely to be celebrated in the Islamic world on May 12 or 13, depending on the sighting of the moon. The Taliban emir greeted the people on the occasion and urged the wealthy Muslims to aid the poor in the last days and nights of Ramadan.
However, the underrunning current in his message is that the withdrawal of American and other foreign troops will pave the way for the establishment of a shari'a-based system of government in Afghanistan under the Islamic Emirate. Calling for the "establishment of a pure Islamic system," Akhundzada said: "We assure the entire nation that following the end of [the American] occupation, we shall have an Afghan-inclusive Islamic system."
The Taliban's demand for a "pure Islamic system," by which they mean a Sunni theocratic emirate established by and under the Islamic Emirate, in Afghanistan is a major obstacle at the upcoming Istanbul conference. In Istanbul, if and when the conference takes place, the Taliban will meet with Afghan delegates backed by the democratically elected government of Afghanistan who advocate democracy, women's rights, press freedom, and rights of religious minorities in Afghanistan. These rights are anathema to the Taliban jihadi organization.
Following is the text of the Taliban emir's statement:
"The Hopes And Aspirations Of The Martyrs, Orphans, Widows, Displaced, And Suffering Compatriots Of The Past Twenty-Year Jihad Are Near Realization, Allah Willing"
"[...] Allah says: O you who believe! If you support Allah (his religion and messenger), he will help you (in overcoming the enemy) and make your feet firm (during battle)' – (verse: 47:7)
"To the believing mujahid people of Afghanistan, vanguard mujahideen and Muslims worldwide!
"May peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you all!
"I extend my heartfelt felicitation to you all on this auspicious occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr. May Allah accept from you your fasting, worship, and supplications, Amen.
"I am pleased that by the special grace of Allah, we are celebrating this Eid as our country is on the verge of attaining complete freedom and independence, and with the divine help of Allah, the hopes and aspirations of the martyrs, orphans, widows, displaced, and suffering compatriots of the past twenty-year jihad are near realization, Allah willing.
"I beseech Allah to accept the lengthy struggle, suffering, and selfless sacrifices of our people and mujahideen, and to substitute it with a peaceful, prosperous, and sovereign life under the shade of a pure Islamic government, so that we may develop our homeland, rehabilitate destruction of wars, heal wounds, comfort our nation, and implement divine shari'a law.
"It is essential that we show our appreciation for the steadfastness and valor demonstrated by our persecuted nation and the selflessness and courage of our mujahideen brethren, to praise and honor the sacrifices of our imprisoned, wounded, disabled, orphaned, and suffering compatriots, and to supplicate to Allah for their acceptance."
"Let Us Together Sincerely Contribute To The Redevelopment Of Our Homeland So That We May Have A Prosperous... Country In The Shade Of An Islamic System"
"Our homeland will be in dire need of reconstruction and self-sufficiency following independence. Come, let us together sincerely contribute to the redevelopment of our homeland so that we may have a prosperous and progressive country in the shade of an Islamic system. Let us attain this end by moving away from self-interests and pursuit of power, by making Islamic values and national interests our guiding principles, and by rebuilding as a strong and unified nation through forgiveness, reconciliation, and compassion towards one another.
"We assure the entire nation that following the end of occupation, we shall have an Afghan-inclusive Islamic system in which all people shall feel a sense of representation based on their abilities and skills; and none shall have their rights violated, Allah willing.
"I once again call on Afghans in the opposition ranks to end all attempts at continuing the war. This land is the shared home of all Afghans. We must unite upon Islamic injunctions and protect ourselves from all discord and prejudice.
"The arms of the Islamic Emirate are wide open for all Afghans that have previously stood in opposition to us. We are extending our hand of amnesty and affection, and inviting them to join the path of truth. Stubbornness, vindictiveness, and enmity will not amount to anything, but conversely, nations attain honor and glory through tolerance, self-restrain [sic], and embracing the truth."
"We Consider The Withdrawal Of Forces By America And Other Foreign Countries A Good Step And Strongly Urge That All Parts Of The Doha Agreement Be Implemented"
"We consider the withdrawal of forces by America and other foreign countries a good step and strongly urge that all parts of the Doha agreement be implemented. Unfortunately, the American side has so far violated the signed agreement repeatedly and caused enormous human and material loss to civilians.
"Contrary to commitments, the remaining prisoners that were set to be released three months after the launch of negotiations have yet to be freed and the names of officials of the Islamic Emirate yet to be removed from sanctions and rewards lists [of the United Nations]. And an additional recent violation is extension of the troop withdrawal date from the month of May to September. All this in spite of the fact that the Islamic Emirate has fulfilled all its commitments and kept its promises per shari'a law.
Afghan Taliban training for jihad circa April-May 2021
"We once more emphasize on the need for moving matters forward in line with the Doha agreement and earnestly abstaining from further provocations and violations. If America again fails to live up to its commitments, then the world must bear witness and hold America accountable for all the consequences. The Islamic Emirate stands ready to protect the independence and sovereignty of its homeland at any cost as it has proven over the past two decades.
"The Islamic Emirate seeks cordial and positive relations based on mutual respect and good conduct with all neighboring, regional, and world countries, and maintaining cooperative relations within the framework of Islamic principles in all the relative fields through human and diplomatic interactions for the prosperity and progress of our respective nations."
"We Request The United Nations And Other Involved Countries To Maintain Their Complete Neutrality On The Issue Of Afghanistan"
"The Islamic Emirate assures all that none shall be harmed from the soil of Afghanistan, and likewise asks others to not interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.
"We request the United Nations and other involved countries to maintain their complete neutrality on the issue of Afghanistan, and not exert efforts against the lives, beliefs, customs, and ideals of the people of Afghanistan that could face a backlash from our people.
"Worth noting [is] that the past forty-three-year experience has demonstrated that our nation will not tolerate imposed ideals and beliefs by anyone. This nation has the right to live in accordance with its religious, doctrinal, moral, and cultural norms. Thus, the world including the United Nations must acknowledge and respect this right.
Haibatullah Akhundzada (image courtesy: unknown)
"We prioritize negotiations and understanding, hence have dispatched a powerful negotiation team for these negotiations to move intra-Afghan negotiations forward. However, the Kabul administration has repeatedly tried to sabotage the ongoing political process through various means and continues to engage in such activity.
"The Islamic Emirate is a significant side in the case. Do not equate us to those whose decisions are made elsewhere and then communicated to them. Any political track related to solving the Afghan issue that expects participation from the Islamic Emirate must take the Islamic Emirate into confidence in advance so that we may assess the proposal in light of our religious values and higher national interests and make a final decision. That is because we value the lofty objectives of our people for which they have presented tremendous sacrifices."
"I Hope That All Noble Scholars, Intellectuals, Political, National, And Influential Figures Join Hands For The Establishment Of A Pure Islamic System"
"I hope that all noble scholars, intellectuals, political, national, and influential figures join hands for the establishment of a pure Islamic system and development of their country, and work towards national unity, empowerment, and self-sufficiency. The Islamic Emirate appreciates their hard work and efforts, values and desperately needs their expertise in the sustainment and strengthening of a future government.
"The Islamic Emirate assures its entire nation especially traders and investors that not only will their lives, wealth and honor be protected, but they shall be provided with all the necessary opportunities and tools for their work and activities.
"Territory under the control of the Islamic Emirate has exceptional security where the rights of people are secured and none can oppress another, where thieves, robbers, and corrupt elements are neutered, and where progress has been made in education, preaching, health, civil and cultural sectors and continues to remain the focus.
"The Islamic Emirate safeguards and supports all public projects, facilities and infrastructure, and strives to strengthen, grow, and advance them. It directs all mujahideen particularly and all countrymen generally to vigorously monitor, protect, and take care of public installations, and not allow anyone to damage or destroy any such space.
"Education is paramount for future generations and for national prosperity, and a nation can only prosper with knowledge. The Islamic Emirate supports wholesome educational processes, and hence has assigned a special commission for this purpose with its chief mission being promotion of madrassas (religious schools), schools, universities, and other learning institutes. The entire nation must pay particular attention to the healthy upbringing and literacy of their children, must safeguard, and look after educational centers and institutions, and duly perform their duty in this regard."
"I Urge The Wealthy And Well-Off Countrymen To Assist Their Poor, Orphaned, Disabled, And Indigent Compatriots In These Blessed Days And Nights [Of Ramadan]"
"Civilian harm and loss of life in war is upsetting and regrettable. The Islamic Emirate has a distinct and authoritative commission for the prevention of civilian casualties. Mujahideen and fellow citizens must assist this commission comprehensively when, Allah forbid, civilians are harmed in a jihadi operation, in compensating victims to the fullest extent and in preventing such occurrences in the future.
"We similarly call on the opposition to withhold their hands from the killing, terrorizing, and persecution of civilians. It is distressing that civilians are still being killed and harmed in the raids, blind bombardments, artillery strikes, and other attacks of the opposing side, which remains utterly unacceptable by any means.
"Mujahideen brethren must adopt a noble and gentle approach towards their fellow compatriots. This nation is weary and has suffered immensely. All must show them compassion. Do not transgress against or violate the rights of anyone anywhere. Even if someone has oppressed or transgressed against us, we must endure and overlook it for the sake of Allah, and we must increase our capacity of forbearance and respect for people in the greater interest of peace, security, and unity of our homeland.
"Additionally, pay close attention to your personal actions – pray in congregation, safeguard yourselves from sins, and make sure arrogance and hubris is not displayed on the threshold of victory. Rather it is important we humble ourselves in gratitude to Allah, turn to him, supplicate for his help, and place our trust in him even further.
Afghan Taliban at a jihad graduation ceremony, circa: April-May 2021
"To end, I once again extend my felicitation to you all on this auspicious occasion of Eid al-Fitr. I urge the wealthy and well-off countrymen to assist their poor, orphaned, disabled, and indigent compatriots in these blessed days and nights [of Ramadan], especially as the country is facing a drought and our people are grappling with a host of difficulties with the corona pandemic serving as another tragedy exacerbating the situation.
"Therefore, assist this desperate nation to the best of your abilities. Similarly, charitable foundations along with other humanitarian and international organizations must pay extra attention to helping and assisting people in every respect.
"Leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
"Emir-ul-Momineen Sheikh-ul-Hadith Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada"
 AlemarahEnglish.net (Afghanistan), May 9, 2021. The original English of the statement has been lightly edited for clarity and standardization.
 MEMRI Daily Brief No. 272, The Afghan Taliban's Goal Is To Establish A Sunni Islamic Theocratic State – They Do Not Believe In Power-Sharing With A Democratically Elected Government, April 22, 2021.
 AlemarahEnglish.net (Afghanistan), May 9, 2021.