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Taliban leader rejects world interference, calls for recognition

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KABUL: The Taliban’s supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada called for the world to stop interfering in how they run Afghanistan, insisting sharia law was the only model for a successful Islamic state

Akhundzada, who has not been filmed or photographed in public since the Taliban returned to power in August, was addressing a major gathering of religious scholars in the Afghan capital called to rubber-stamp the Islamic Emirate’s rule.

Over 3,000 clerics have gathered in Kabul since Thursday for the three-day men-only meeting, and Akhundzada’s appearance had been rumoured for days — although media are barred from covering the event. “Why is the world interfering in our affairs?” he asked in an hour-long speech broadcast by state radio. “They say ‘why don’t you do this, why don’t you do that?’ Why does the world interfere in our work?”

No women are attending the clerics’ meeting, but a Taliban source said this week that thorny issues such as girls’ education — which has divided opinion in the movement — would be discussed. Akhundzada did not mention the subject in his speech, which was confined largely to telling the faithful to strictly observe Islamic principles in life and governance.

Akhundzada said the Taliban had won victory for Afghanistan, but it was up to the “ulema” — the religious scholars — to advise the new rulers on how to properly implement sharia law.” The sharia system comes under two parts — scholars and rulers,” he said. “If scholars do not advise authorities to do good, or the rulers close the doors against the scholars, then we will have not an Islamic system.”

Taliban leader spoke in strong measured tones, occasionally coughing or clearing his throat. He warned that non-Muslim nations would always be opposed to a pure Islamic state, so the faithful had to endure hardships to get what they wanted.” You have to compete, you have to endure hardships… the present world will not easily accept you implementing the Islamic system,” he said.

Women’s rights activists have slammed their lack of participation. The Taliban have thrown a dense security blanket over the capital for the meeting, but on Thursday two gunmen were shot dead near the venue.

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