Following another rambling, incoherent press conference from President Joe Biden on Sunday, a spokesman for the Taliban told Sky News early Monday that the Taliban would not permit the US to extend its evacuation efforts beyond Aug. 31.
The Taliban met with Sky News for an exclusive interview in Doha, and issued a stark warning about the withdrawal of troops from the country. Taliban spokesperson Dr. Suhail Shaheen said: "It's a red line. President Biden announced that on Aug. 31 they would withdraw all their military forces. So if they extend it that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that."
He added that the deadline is "a red line."
"It's a red line. President Biden announced that on 31 August they would withdraw all their military forces...If the U.S. or U.K. were to seek additional time to continue evacuations - the answer is no. Or there would be consequences."
"It will create mistrust between us. If they are intent on continuing the occupation it will provoke a reaction."
The response was elicited by a question about a possible extension, which itself followed comments from UK PM Boris Johnson, who said he would ask Biden to try and extend the pullout deadline.
Unfortunately for both of them, the authority to do so is no longer in their hands.
When asked about the people risking their lives to escape Afghanistan - including the people who clung to a plane as it took off, only to plummet to their deaths in gruesome footage that swiftly went viral - the Taliban spokesman said all people attempting to migrate were doing so for economic reasons, not fear of Taliban retribution, despite the many reports of Taliban members threatening Afghans who worked with the US and NATO, as well as their families
"All fake news," Dr Shaheen told Sky. "I can assure you there are many reports by our opponents claiming what is not based on realities."
He added: "I assure you it is not about being worried or scared."
"They want to reside in Western countries and that is a kind of economic migration because Afghanistan is a poor country and 70% of the people of Afghanistan live under the line of poverty so everyone wants to resettle in Western countries to have a prosperous life. It is not about [being] scared."
The Taliban spokesman also defended the Taliban's treatment of women and especially female students, saying they would be allowed to be educated, so long as they wear the Hijab.
Dr Shaheen said: "They will lose nothing. Only if they have no hijab, they will have a hijab… women are required to have the same rights as you have in your country but with a hijab."
When pressed, he was insistent: "Now, women teachers have resumed work. Lost nothing. Female journalists they have resumed their work. Lost nothing."
Finally, asked about what he would say to the families of those who died fighting in Afghanistan, the Taliban spokesman showed little compassion. "They occupied our country. If we occupy your country. What you will say to me? What if I killed your people in your country what you will say?"
Then added that the past is the past, and it would be best for both sides to simply move on.
"I think all people suffered a lot. Bloodshed. Destruction. Everything. But we say the past is the past. Part of our past history. Now we want to focus on the future."
Around 10K to 15K Americans are still in the country now controlled by the Taliban, with thousands being evacuated every day. However, more than 50K Afghans who aided in the American effort are still stuck in the country, with many desperately calling American troops that they worked with, pleading for help.
But the Taliban has made it clear: no additional time will be ceded to the US and the West. Once Aug. 31 passes, Taliban will have near-complete control of Afghanistan, with the last pockets of resistance gathering int he Panjshir Valley.