Taliban leader Mullah Hasan Akhund nominated as head of state: report

"Mullah Baradar Akhund and Mullah Abdus Salam will work as his deputies,” says senior Taliban leader

Mushtaq Yusufzai
Taliban co-founder Mullah Baradar Akhund with other leaders. File photo
Taliban co-founder Mullah Baradar Akhund with other leaders. File photo

  • Taliban likely to announce new government by Wednesday.
  • Sources say differences have been resolved over responsibilities.
  • Zabihullah Mujahid will be the spokesman of the head of the state.

PESHAWAR: As the world anxiously waits for the announcement of the government in Afghanistan, Taliban chief Hibatullah Akhunzada has proposed Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund's name as the new head of state, according to a The News report published Monday.

The development comes after days of consultations among the Taliban leaders following the takeover of Kabul last month. However, there are no further details about the inclusion of non-Taliban leaders in the new set-up - a demand made by the US and other countries.

Quoting senior Taliban leaders, The News reported that the Taliban had made preparations to announce the government today, but it was postponed due to “some unavoidable” reasons. They said the new government was likely to be installed on Wednesday, “or may get delayed for a few more days”.

“Ameerul Momineen Sheikh Hibatullah Akhunzada had himself proposed Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund as Raees-e-Jamhoor, or Raees-ul-Wazara or the new head state of Afghanistan. Mullah Baradar Akhund and Mullah Abdus Salam will work as his deputies,” a senior Taliban leader told the publication.

Three Taliban leaders contacted by the publication confirmed Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund’s nomination.

It was earlier reported that Taliban co-founder and chief of the Political Office in Doha, Mullah Baradar Akhund, will head the new government.

Who is Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund?

He is presently the head of the Taliban’s powerful decision-making body, Rehbari Shura or leadership council. He belongs to Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, and was among the founders of the armed movement.

“He worked for 20 years as head of Rehbari Shura and earned himself a very good reputation. He is a religious leader rather than a military background and is known for his character and devotion,” according to another Taliban leader.

He said Mullah Hasan remained close to Sheikh Hibatullah Akhunzada for 20 years.

Mullah Hasan had worked on important positions during the previous government of Taliban in Afghanistan. He was a foreign minister and then made deputy prime minister when Mullah Mohammad Rabbani Akhund was the prime minister.

Who is who in the new set-up

Similarly, the Taliban said another veteran Taliban leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of the Haqqani Network, is proposed as the federal interior minister.

He has also been authorised to nominate governors for the eastern provinces, from where the Haqqani Network used to draw its force. They are Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Gardez, Nangarhar and Kunar.

Similarly, Mullah Yaqoob, son of Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar, has been approved as Afghanistan’s defence minister.

He was a student of Sheikh Hibatullah Akhunzada in his madrassa and remained close to him.

According to Taliban sources, Sheikh Hibatullah Akhunzada has always respected Mullah Yaqoob due to his father and Yaqoob’s dedication to his work. It was Sheikh Habibullah who appointed Mullah Yaqoob as commander in chief of their armed fighters and then chose him as head of the powerful military commission.

Mullah Yaqoob personally led the recent armed campaign and first started taking over the rural areas, including districts, and then decided to capture provinces across the country.

People close to Mullah Yaqoob told The News that he would take little sleep during the operations and depended on medicines. Some senior Taliban leaders then advised him against taking too much pain.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, according to the paper’s sources, was earlier tasked to be appointed as the new information minister but the leadership changed its mind and decided to engage him as spokesman for the head of the state, Mullah Hasan Akhund.

Mullah Ameer Khan Muttaqi has been nominated as the new foreign minister, according to the Taliban sources.

Taliban insiders have told the publication that there were some minor issues over certain responsibilities, which, they claimed, had been resolved.