The Taliban has announced the reinstatement of its Ministry for Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, declaring the eventual return of summary amputations, public stonings, and the executions of criminals who commit “major sins of Islam.”

The ministry was scrapped following the U.S. occupation two decades ago. The new Taliban interim government insists it will protect the rights of women, the media, and diplomats as they lay down the foundation of their new regime, the Independent reported.

“The main purpose is to serve Islam. Therefore, it is compulsory to have a Ministry of Vice and Virtue,” Taliban official Mohammad Yousuf, 32, who is responsible for the “central zone” of Afghanistan, said on Monday.

According to the militant Islamist group, they will take action on the “major sins of Islam,” such as sex outside marriage, murder, and theft, as per the Islamic rules.

Yousuf also claimed that miscreants will be executed in a draconian manner regardless of gender, with stoning a mode of punishment for women under the old Taliban-style justice system.

Four witnesses will then be required and must all detail the same story of the crimes. In case of a discrepancy in the statements of the witnesses, the Supreme Court will not order any punishment for the alleged offender.

“If you [murder someone] intentionally, if you know the person and intentionally kill the person, you will be killed back," Yousuf explained. "If not intentional, then there might be another punishment like paying a certain amount of money.”

“If there is a theft, the hand will be cut off. If there is illegal intercourse, [violators] will be stoned,” he continued.

Throughout the Taliban’s last reign, from 1996 to 2001, the Ministry for Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice brutally imposed restrictions on locals, especially women, who were forced to wear the burqa and barred from leaving their home without a male relative.

Afghan female students were also banned from education beyond the sixth grade.

Furthermore, Afghans were ordered to strictly follow the prayer times and mandate that men must grow beards. Under the old Taliban rule, music, smoking, and other forms of entertainment, such as chess, dancing, and kite-flying, were all considered illegal.

The strict implementation of the Sharia Law also saw “morality police” enforcing harsh punishments ranging from lashings, flogging, and amputations to stoning and executions in public places such as squares, schools, and sports grounds, the BBC noted.

Amputations were traditionally done by professional doctors, whose faces were covered during operations for fear of reprisals. Amputees would often faint as their severed limbs were paraded to the crowd by Taliban officials before burial.

Moving forward, the new Taliban interim government vows for a more benevolent approach from the “morality police” with all regulations to be determined by scholars once the new government is fully assembled.

"We will be guiding people; we will be helping them understand what is good and what is bad,” Yousuf claims. “We may use force, but first, we will go with open hearts. In the case [Afghans] continuously do the same [violations], we will be using the force.”

Abdul Hakim Haqqani, a member of Afghanistan’s leadership committee, attended the induction for the newly appointed cabinet inside the associated Ministry of the Hajj and Religious Affairs on Thursday, just a day after the new interim government was announced.

He said women, under the new Taliban rule, have the freedom to get an education and employment opportunities, noting they could wear whatever they like as long as they keep wear the hijab. A final ruling for women’s affairs will be handed down in the coming days, according to the New York Post.

The ministry will also call upon an assemblage of Islamic leaders called the “jirga” to develop a final document as per the instruction of Pashtunwali or the Afghan's way of life. Women who are full scholars of Islam and therefore have the highest level of Islamic knowledge will be allowed in the meeting.

Taliban fighters
The strict implementation of the Sharia Law saw “morality police” enforcing harsh punishments ranging from lashings, flogging, and amputations to stoning and executions in public places such as squares, schools, and sports grounds. This is a representational image. Aref Karimi/Getty Images

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