- BBC presenter Yalda Hakim was live on air when she received the Taliban’s call
- Ms Hakim, raised in Australia after fleeing Afghanistan, kept her poise
- She drew praise for grilling the Taliban on their plans during the interview
A BBC presenter brought up in Sydney found herself with a stunning exclusive when she received a call from a Taliban leader while live on air.
Yalda Hakim, who went to school in western Sydney and studied journalism at the city’s Macleay College after fleeing her native Afghanistan as a child, received the call from Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen on her mobile phone on Sunday.
She quickly put the phone next to a guest microphone so that viewers could hear Shaheen claim victory as the Taliban recaptured the Afghan capital of Kabul after 20 years in exile.
‘OK, we have got the Taliban’s spokesman Shail Shaheen on the line,’ a composed Ms Hakim said. ‘Mr Shaheen, can you hear me?’
‘There should not be any confusion, we assure the people of Afghanistan in the city of Kabul that their properties and their lives are safe,’ Shaheen responded.
‘There will be no revenge on anyone. We are the servants of the people and of this country.
‘Our leadership has instructed our forces to remain at the gate of Kabul, not to enter the city. We are awaiting a peaceful transfer of power.’
Shaheen said that transfer involved handing over the country to the ‘Islamic Emirate’ of Afghanistan.
Ms Hakim continued to ask questions for 30 minutes, with Shaheen revealing Islamic government under Sharia law was the aim of the resurgent Taliban.
He also refused to rule out the former regime’s former brutal repression methods, such as public executions and removal of limbs.
‘I can’t say right now, that’s up to the judges in the courts and the laws,’ he replied.
‘The judges will be appointed according to the law of the future government.’
Praise for Ms Hakim’s handling of the Taliban spokesman flowed quickly on social media.
Fellow broadcaster Aasmah Mir called her ‘an absolute boss’ for the ‘mindblowing’ interview.
Reporter David Shukman said she showed ‘phenomenal skill’ and the BBC’s Australian correspondent Shaimaa Khalil said the interview was ‘must watch’.
Ms Hakim attended Sydney’s Macarthur Girls High School in Parramatta before attending Macleay College.
She then worked for SBS before landing her role with the BBC in 2012.
in 2015 she told ABC’s The Drum how her family used people smugglers in order to leave Afghanistan and seek asylum in Australia.
‘I see myself as a woman who’s Australian, who works for an international organisation but I’m Australian, I’m a product of this society,’ she said.
18:20 EDT 16 Aug 2021 , updated 20:51 EDT 16 Aug 2021
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