Taliban say committed to Afghan peace talks
The Taliban said on Sunday they were committed to peace talks, adding they wanted an "Islamic system" in Afghanistan that would make provisions for women's rights in line with cultural traditions and religious rules.
The statement came amid slow progress in the talks between the hardline Islamic group and Afghan government representatives in Qatar and as violence rises dramatically around the country ahead of the withdrawal of foreign forces by September 11.
Officials have raised concerns over the stalling negotiations and have said the Taliban has not yet submitted a written peace proposal that could be used as a starting point for substantive talks.
"We understand that the world and Afghans have queries and questions about the form of the system to be established following withdrawal of foreign troops," said Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the head of the Taliban's political office, in the statement, adding the issues were best addressed during negotiations in Doha.
"An Islamic system is the best means for solution of all issues of the Afghans," he said. "Our very participation in the negotiations and its support on our part indicates openly that we believe in resolving issues through (mutual) understanding."
He added that women and minorities would be protected and diplomats and NGO workers would be able to work securely.
"We take it on ourselves as a commitment to accommodate all rights of citizens of our country, whether they are male or female, in the light of the rules of the glorious religion of Islam and the noble traditions of the Afghan society," he said, adding that 'facilities would be provided' for women to work and be educated.
It was not clear whether the Taliban would allow women to carry out public roles and whether workplaces and schools would be segregated by gender. The group's spokesman did not immediately to respond to request for comment.
In May, U.S. intelligence analysts released an assessment that the Taliban "would roll back much" of the progress made in Afghan women's rights if the Islamist extremists regained national power.
Before being ousted by the 2001 U.S.-led invasion, the Taliban imposed a harsh version of Islamic rule that included barring girls from school and women from working outside their homes and prohibiting them from being in public without a male relative.