Contrary to earlier claims, cabinet does not suggest ‘inclusivity,’ as it has no women and minimal representation by non-Pashtuns
The Afghan Taliban on Tuesday announced a new “interim” government, a little over three weeks after they assumed control of Kabul following the collapse of the West-backed government led by former president Ashraf Ghani.
According to spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund has been appointed the Islamic Emirate’s acting prime minister. A close associate and political adviser to Mullah Umar, the first supreme leader of Taliban, Akhund had served as the deputy foreign minister in the 1990s, and had been placed on a U.N. Security Council sanctions list over his links to “activities” of the Taliban.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, meanwhile, has been appointed the first deputy to the prime minister, while Uzbek Molvi Abdul Salam Hanafi has been named the second deputy. Baradar was a co-founder of the Taliban movement with Mullah Umar. He was arrested in Pakistan in 2010 and kept in custody until 2018 when he was released under U.S. pressure. He has been serving as the head of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar and oversaw the signing of the troop withdrawal agreement with Washington.
Molvi Muhammad Yaqoob has been appointed the defense minister. A son of Mullah Omar, he is seen as a unifying figure in the movement. Sirajuddin Haqqani, the head of the notorious Haqqani Network, has been appointed the interior minister. He has a $10 million bounty on his head from the U.S. State Department.
Other prominent appointments include Ameer Khan Muttaqi as the foreign minister; Mullah Hidayatullah Badri as the finance minister; Sheikh Molvi Noorullah Munir as the education minister; Khairullah Khairkhwa as the information minister; Qari Din Muhammad Hanif, a Tajik, as the minister of economic affairs; Mullah Noorullah Noori as the minister for borders and tribal affairs; Khalilur Rehman Haqqani as the minister for refugees; and Qari Faseehuddin, a Tajik, as the army chief.
The 33-member cabinet was announced by Mujahid during a press conference in which he emphasized that the Taliban now controlled all of Afghanistan. “The cabinet is not complete; it is just acting. We will try to take people from other parts of the country,” he said.
“The state will be run in accordance with the Islamic sharia,” he reiterated, adding that the new government wanted positive ties with all its neighbors. “We don’t desire to have separate standard for other countries like the E.U.,” he added.
Claiming that the Taliban government would respect all the basic rights of all sections of the society, he said that the property of individuals would be safeguarded as enshrined in the holy Quran and Hadiths.
“Taliban will pose no threats to anyone in the country; we need a stable Afghanistan,” he stressed. “Due to the war for 40 years, we have suffered a lot and [now] we are making efforts to bring economic stability,” he said, reiterating vows to ensure media freedom.
Mujahid said the Taliban wanted all diplomats to return to Afghanistan and resume their work, assuring them of no hurdles. Similarly, he urged professionals in all fields, including health, and education, to continue their work, saying they were “respected by Islamic Emirate.”
To a question, Mujahid rejected claims that Pakistan was interfering in Afghanistan’s affairs, dismissing them as baseless rumors. “We will not allow anyone to interfere in our country’s affairs,” he said. “We are working with complete freedom. We fought against different countries who were occupying our country to the best of our ability,” he said, adding that similar rumors had been circulating for decades and were not based on truth.