U.S. statement when the Taliban took Kabul, 1996
On September 26, 1996, the Taliban captured Kabul by military force and assassinated the former president of Afghanistan and many others. The next day, the U.S. State Department held a media conference. Here is an edited transcript:
Glyn Davies (U.S. State Department spokesperson): Kabul has fallen to the Taliban. Kabul appears to be relatively calm. Taliban leaders have announced that Afghans can return to Kabul without fear and that Afghanistan is the common home of all Afghans. We take this as an indication that the Taliban intends to respect the rights of all Afghans.
Question: There are reports the Taliban is imposing strict Islamic law, ordering women to go into purdah. Is that consistent with the government you describe as apparently willing to respect the rights of its citizens?
Davies: We've seen some reports that they've moved to impose Islamic law, but at this stage we're not reading anything into that. There's nothing objectionable at this stage.
Question: Is this a good thing? Will it bring stability to Afghanistan?
Davies: We hope very much and expect the Taliban will respect the rights of all Afghans, and that the new authorities will move quickly to restore order and security, and form a representative interim government on the way to national reconciliation.
Question: Do you have any response to the demise of former-president Najibullah? [Editor's Note: The communist, former-president was ousted by the Northern Alliance in 1992. On Sept. 26, 1996, the Taliban abducted him from the UN compound. He was then beaten, tortured, dragged behind a truck, castrated, shot and hanged from a lamp post in the city centre.]
Davies: We regret the deaths of Pres-ident Najibullah and his associates.
Question: How can you do anything but condemn it? Regret is different from condemnation.
Davies: It appears as if that was a regrettable development.
Question: Let me get this straight. This Islamic fundamentalist group has taken Afghanistan by force, summarily executed the president and the U.S. is holding out the possibility of relations?
Davies: I'm not going to prejudge where we're going with Afghanistan. Since they appear to hold the majority of the cards, our call on them is to use their new position of authority to establish democratic institutions and move towards national reconciliation.
Source: Daily Press Briefing #156, U.S. Department of State, Sept. 27, 1996. <http://www.hri.org/docs/statedep/96-09-27.std.html>