Kabul : Taliban on Tuesday announced the caretaker government of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, naming Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund as interim prime minister and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a co-founder of the group, as his deputy.
Mullah Yaqoob, one of the deputy leaders of the Taliban since 2016 and the son of Taliban founder Mullah Omar, will act as caretaker Defence Minister. Abdul Salam Hanafi has been made the second deputy to Prime Minister Akhund.
During a press briefing, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid announced that Mullah Hassan, the chief of the Taliban’s powerful decision-making body ‘Rehbari Shura’ will head the country’s new “caretaker” government.
The lesser know Taliban leader who is on the UN terror list hails from Kandahar and was among the founders of the armed group. He worked for 20 years as head of Rehbari Shura and remained close to Taliban chief Hebatullah Akhundzada.
He had served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister during the Taliban’s previous government in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.
Mullah Baradar, who headed the Taliban’s political office in Doha, will serve as his deputy. The appointment came as a surprise as Baradar was being considered for the top post.
Baradar has been the Taliban’s most visible face in recent years as the group’s chief, Haibatullah Akhunzada, largely stays out of the public view.
Amir Khan Muttaqi, in turn, has been given the post of acting foreign minister in the new Afghan Cabinet.
Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the notorious Haqqani network, has been named as interior minister, chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said at a press conference on Tuesday. The network is a US-designated terror group aligned with the Taliban and al Qaeda. Haqqani has a USD 5 million US bounty on his head.
He is suspected of organising a series of bombings in Kabul in 2008 and plotting the assassination of then-Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
The announcement of key figures in the caretaker government comes weeks after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan.
The group’s spokesperson also revealed key figures who will lead the economic and financial departments of the government, with Qari Din Mohammad Hanif taking over as acting economy minister, Mohammad Idris as head of Afghanistan’s Central Bank, and Hedayatullah Badri appointed acting finance minister.
Mawlawi Abdul Hakim Sharie has been named acting minister of justice, and Abdul Haq Wasiq has received the post of acting director of intelligence. Ahmad Jan Ahmady will serve as the acting director of the Administrative Office of the President.
Sheikh Mawlawi Noorullah has been awarded the office of acting education minister, while Abdul Baqi Haqqani will be filling the role of the country’s minister of higher education. Mullah Khairullah Khairkhah, in turn, will become acting minister for information and culture.
Taliban had promised to put together a more inclusive government, unlike the last time. The Taliban ruled the country from 1996 to 2001.
However, the new cabinet does not have any signs of inclusivity.
This is the second stint in power of the Taliban.
They had ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001 and in those five years, they imposed Sharia Islamic law in the country, introducing punishments in line with their strict interpretation of the law – publically executing convicted murderers and adulterers and carrying out amputations of those found guilty of theft. Men were required to grow beards and women had to wear the all-covering hijab.
The outfit was thrown out of power by US forces following the 9/11 terror attacks and since then the Taliban had been gradually regrouping across the border in Pakistan and has led an insurgency against the US-backed government in Kabul for nearly 20 years.