Taliban announce first members of new 'acting' govt

Hassan Akhund has been appointed acting PM, while Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar will be acting deputy PM

Web Desk

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid addressing a press conference in Kabul to announce some of the key positions in the new, acting Afghan government, on September 7, 2021. — Screengrab from video courtesy Al Jazeera
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid addressing a press conference in Kabul to announce some of the key positions in the new, acting Afghan government, on September 7, 2021. — Screengrab from video courtesy Al Jazeera

  • Taliban announce interim government, three weeks after takeover of Afghanistan.
  • Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund named as acting PM among 33 new members named.
  • To no women members being named, Taliban official Ahmadullah Wasiq says cabinet not finalised yet.

KABUL: The Taliban on Tuesday announced the first members of a new "acting" government, three weeks after sweeping into full power with the takeover of Kabul, on August 15.

"The cabinet is not complete, it is just acting," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a press conference at the Government Information and Media Centre in Kabul.

"We will try to take people from other parts of the country," he added.

The list for the interim government contains 33 names. Some of the key appointments are outlined below:

  • Taliban veteran, Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund - acting prime minister
  • Taliban co-founder, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar - acting deputy prime minister
  • Taliban negotiator in Doha, Amir Khan Muttaqi - acting foreign minister
  • Abas Stanikzai - acting deputy foreign minister
  • Son of Taliban founder and late supreme leader Mullah Omar, Mullah Yaqoob - acting defense minister
  • Leader of the feared Haqqani network, Sirajuddin Haqqani - acting interior minister

In response to a question, the Taliban spokesman clarified once more that this is an "acting" government will not be the future government.

"Thankyou, firstly, as you said, the government we announced is an acting government, it is not the future and permanent government. Some of the ministers have not been declared yet, which will be soon," Mujahid said.

"The declaration of government is not final. These are acting ministers. I do not say they are not deserving, but at this stage, we are at an emergency state," he continued.

Responding to concerns about a perceived Daesh interference from within Pakistan in Afghanistan's internal affairs, especially in Panjshir, Mujahid denied any such possibility.

"People have been talking about Panjshir, but we tell you the Panjshir province is safe, there have been no exchanges, and there has been no war in the Panjshir [valley]," he said.

"Now we do not allow people to abuse the current situation in order to cause trouble. The interference of Pakistan is a rumour that has been banded about for 20 years. 

"We do not allow interference. We act with complete freedom and we were able to fight the countries of the world who were occupying our country. From the outset we fought the whole world for the sake of Islam and this country," Mujahid said.

"Not that I want to drive a wedge between us and Pakistan. We have sacrificed and provided many sacrifices in defence of this country and the people of this country," he added.

Speaking of demonstrations in the capital he said: "There are also people that are carrying out demonstrations with security and safety in the capital. We also know some people do not have enough experience to deal with demonstrators and I would like and hope that this is left for the future so that it can be dealt with properly within a full-time government."

The Taliban had been expected to announce a government since the US-led evacuation was completed at the end of August.

They have promised an "inclusive" government that represents Afghanistan's complex ethnic makeup — though women are unlikely to be included at the top levels.

"It was agreed that we would announce a new government before a formal ceremony could be held," Ahmadullah Wasiq had said earlier, adding "some members" of the cabinet would be announced at the press conference.

Asked why no women were appointed, Wasiq told the BBC's Secunder Kermani that the cabinet had not been finalised yet.

As they transition from insurgent group to governing power, the Taliban have a series of major issues to address.

'We are tired'

Following their 20-year insurgency, the Taliban now face the colossal task of ruling Afghanistan, which is wracked with economic woes and security challenges — including from the Daesh group's local chapter, the Daesh Khorasan.

Scattered protests in recent days have indicated that some Afghans are sceptical of the Taliban's capacity to translate their promise of a more moderate rule into reality.

"Afghan women want their country to be free. They want their country to be rebuilt. We are tired," protester Sarah Fahim told AFP at one rally on Tuesday, where more than 70 people, mostly women, had gathered.

Videos posted on social media of a separate rally showed more than a hundred people marching through the streets under the watchful eye of armed Taliban members.

Scattered demonstrations have also been held in smaller cities in recent days, including in Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif, where women have demanded to be part of a new government.

People allowed to 'freely depart'

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Taliban had reiterated a pledge to allow Afghans to freely depart Afghanistan.

The Taliban told the United States that "they will let people with travel documents freely depart", Blinken said at a news conference in Doha, where he and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin met their Qatari opposite numbers.

US President Joe Biden has faced mounting pressure amid reports that several hundred people, including Americans, have been prevented for a week from flying out of an airport in northern Afghanistan.

'Hit hard'

Tuesday's developments come after the Taliban claimed total control over Afghanistan a day earlier, saying they had won the key battle for the Panjshir Valley.

Following their lightning-fast victory in mid-August over the former Afghan government's security forces and the withdrawal of US troops after 20 years of war, the Taliban turned to fighting the resistance forces defending the mountainous region.

In a press conference on Monday, Mujahid warned against any further attempts to rise up against their rule.

"Anyone who tries to start an insurgency will be hit hard. We will not allow another," he said.