KABUL – The Taliban promised on Monday to not attack Afghan interpreters and other citizens who had offered their services to the foreign military forces once the United States and NATO complete their withdrawal from the country by Sept. 11.
“Nobody should desert the country. The Islamic Emirate (as the Taliban address themselves) will not perturb them,” the group said in a statement addressed to foreign troops’ interpreters.
Fear of retaliation amid locals employed as interpreters and guards has increased along with clashes in recent weeks, as the deadline announced by the US for pulling out of the country approaches.
The Taliban said that the interpreters should return to their “normal lives” and “serve their country” in their respective fields of expertise.
“They shall not be in any danger,” said the statement.
The rebels insisted that a large number of Afghans had been “misled” into serving the foreign troops during the two decades of war.
Despite promising to not harm these employees, the statement said that they had committed “treason against Islam and the country” and should “show remorse for their past actions and not engage in such activities in the future.”
However, the insurgents insisted that if some interpreters were using danger from future Taliban actions as an “excuse” to seek asylum abroad, it was “their own problem.”
Thousands of Afghans have worked as interpreters, security guards and contractual workers for the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan over the years.
Hundreds of these employees have held protests in different parts of the country demanding special visas to be evacuated from the country, citing the risk of being attacked.
The announcement comes amid rising violence in the country in recent weeks, with widespread clashes between the insurgents and government forces reported from nearly half of the 34 Afghan provinces.
Taliban have captured 11 districts in just over a month since the final phase of the foreign troops’ pullout kicked off on May 1.