Smiling with reporters, posing for the cameras and even giving an interview to a female journalist, the Afghan Taliban appear to have launched a major campaign of media seduction to convince Afghans and the world that they have changed.
But Afghans – and especially Afghans and religious minorities – they have alive the memory of the brutal regime fundamentalist regime that they established during their time in power, from 1996 to 2001.
“In terms of ideology and dogma, there are no differences”said one of its spokesmen, Zabihullah Mujahid, during the first press conference in Kabul on Tuesday.
But in “experience, maturity and insight there is a lot, without a doubt”he added.
Mujahid then listed a long list of seductive promises: amnesty for all, rights for women such as access to education and work, independent and free media, and the formation of an inclusive government.
Another Taliban official went from saying to deed and sat even with a journalist during a face-to-face interview.
The Taliban also want be part of the international communityHe and they promise that their territory will not be a terrorist base, as was the case in 2001 when the United States invaded the country for its refusal to hand over Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
They also sent representatives to the Ashura, one of the main religious festivals of the Shiite community, that Sunni extremists like the Taliban treat as heretics.
For months the Taliban they make this type of gesture but they are silent on the details of their promises. And they warn: everything will be done within their own interpretation of Islamic law.
Nobody forgets his abuses between 1996 and 2001.
Entertainment such as television and music were prohibited, thieves were cut off their hands, murderers were executed in public, women could neither work nor study, and those who committed crimes such as adultery were whipped with whips and stoned to death.
The international community accused them of massacring civilians, especially members of the Shiite minority.
And when they came to power in 1996, they promised, like this week, a general amnesty, But two days later they executed the former president Najibulá and hung his body from a lamppost.
Now, while its spokesmen are moderate, its troops are accused in some regions of threatening journalists or not letting women go back to college.
En Kabul, images of women from the shop windows disappeared.
“Currently, they are the best in public relations (…) They speak English, they address the international media, “she explained in an interview for the British channel Channel Four Pashtana Durrani, which runs an NGO for the education of women in Kandahar (south).
“They say one thing at a press conference and do another on the ground”, he stressed.
Despite months of campaigning to improve their image in the international community and reassure their compatriots, the Taliban they are far from having achieved their goal.
Tens of thousands of Afghans terrified They have been trying to flee through the Kabul airport since Sunday.
Fewer women are seen on the streets. Journalists and people who worked for international organizations fear reprisals.
China, Russia, Turkey and Iran show signs of approach with the Taliban but so far no one has recognized them internationally.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned them on Wednesday that they would be “judged by their actions, not by their words”, a position shared by Germany, the United States and France.