Older guard in focus as Taliban announces key post of their new government
- EP News Service
- Sep 07, 2021
NEW DELHI: A month after they ousted the elected regime and captured power in Afghanistan the Taliban has announced key posts for their new government with a 33 member team to be headed by Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund as the acting Prime Minister (PM) of the new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
Akhund is one of the oldest members of the Taliban and was the most trusted associate of its founder Mullah Omar and in its last regime during 1996-2001 he was the deputy prime minister with the additional charge of foreign minister.
He was one of the key members of the group's Supreme Council the 'Rehbari Shura' and was placed on a UN Security Council sanctions list connected to the 'acts and activities of the Taliban. The supreme comander or the Emir the regim is Hibatullah Akhundzada.
The announcement was made by Taliban spokesman said Zabihullah Mujahid in a press briefing in Kabul where he announced that Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar would be Mullah Akhund’s deputy as the Deputy PM of Afghanistan.
The second most important man in the government Baradar was the deputy defence minister in the Taliban's previous government and was incarcerated in Pakistani prison from 2010 to 2018 and is a childhood friend of Omar who gave him the name 'Baradar' which means brother.
Baradar is largely credited of being one of the four co-founders of the Taliban along with Omar and about three months after he was released from Pakistan's jail he was appointed a deputy to the supreme leader and the chief of the Taliban's political office in Doha, Qatar, in January 2019.
Abdul Salam Hanafi will be acting second deputy prime minister, alongside Baradar. He has also served as deputy minister of education in the Taliban government and is also on a UN blacklist, however, the UN travel ban on Hanafi was lifted to allow him to take part in talks as part of the Taliban's political negotiating team in Doha.
While the relatively moderate Mullah Muhammad Yaqoob, the 30 years old eldest son of Mullah Omar, has been named the defence minister, another hardliner who has a bounty of $10 million offered by the U.S. State Department on his head Sirajuddin Haqqani who has been named as the Minister of Interior Affairs.
Haqqani son of the famed jihadi network commander Sirajuddin Haqqani, is one of the two deputies of Akhundzada and also the leader of the Haqqani network, a sub-set of the Taliban organisation and close associate of Al-Qaeda.
The Haqqani network is infamous for its use of suicide bombers and is considered one of the most dangerous militant factions in Afghanistan who are accused of assassinating top Afghan officials and holding kidnapped Western citizens for ransom. Apart from several bomb attacks, they are accused of a deadly truck bomb explosion in Kabul in 2017 that killed more than 150 people and injuring 413 near the German Embassy.
The other prominent Taliban member who has been inducted in the interim cabinet is another son of Mullah Omar, Mullah Yaqoob as the acting defence minister also considered as a moderate as his brother and the deputy minister for foreign affairs will be Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai who was Taliban's deputy head of their political office in Doha, Qatar.
Stanikzai has an Indian connection, as a young officer in the Afghan National Army, he was trained in Indian Military Academy, Nowgaon as a soldier and then as an officer in India in 1979.
Although the announcement of the acting cabinet is termed interim, however, this will eventually lead to the formation of a permanent Taliban run administration which will have to gain the approval of international communities including the US administration which has said that such an acceptance would not be so soon or so easy.