An Afghan-born BBC anchor received a startling call from a Taliban spokesman while she was reporting live on air after the extremist group toppled the government.
Yalda Hakim kept her poise when Suhail Shaheen dialed her mobile phone while she was conducting an interview, according to The Sun.
She quickly switched gears, transferred Shaheen to a loudspeaker and peppered the rep with questions as the Taliban declared victory in Kabul 20 years after being removed from power by US-led forces.
“OK, we have got the Taliban’s spokesperson Shail Shaheen on the line. Mr. Shaheen, can you hear me?” the Australian journalist said.
After confirming that he could hear her, Shaheen launched into a speech in which he promised “peace” in the war-ravaged country.
“There should not be any confusion, we are sure the people of Afghanistan in the city of Kabul, that their properties and their lives are safe. There will be no revenge on anyone. We are the servants of the people and of this country,” he said.
“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,” added Shaheen, who did not rule out that public executions and amputation punishments could be used.
“I can’t say right now, that’s up to the judges in the courts and the laws. The judges will be appointed according to the law of the future government,” said the spokesman, who
also confirmed that the country will return to the extreme version of Islamic Sharia law.
“Of course, we want Islamic government,” Shaheen said during the half-hour interview.
He also claimed the Taliban will respect the rights of women and allow them access to education.
Hakim’s colleagues praised her for maintaining her composure when she got the surprise call – and also for her probing interview, Metro reported.
“Have never witnessed anything quite like what happened in studio this morning, pointing our guest mic at @BBCYaldaHakim own mobile phone as a Taliban spokesman rang it in the middle of her juggling another live interview,” TV floor manager @swimmersjackson said on Twitter.
“Timing is everything, there was no rearranging this,” he added.
Broadcaster Aasmah Mir wrote: “That BBC Taliban interview is just mind-blowing. All 32 minutes of it. Yalda Hakim is an absolute boss.”