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Taliban announces new ‘acting’ government for Afghanistan

Group announces key positions for new government. (Source: Screengrab)

KABUL: The Taliban have announced 33 key positions for the new government in Afghanistan, a day after capturing Panjshir valley and completing their takeover of the country.

Addressing a press conference in Kabul, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said that the new caretaker government will be led by Muhammad Ahsan Akhunzada. Mullah Baradar, the head of the Taliban’s political office, has been appointed as the new vice president of the war-torn country.

Taliban’s deputy leader Sirajuddin Haqqani will be the acting interior minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi will be the acting foreign minister, political chief Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai will be the acting deputy foreign minister and Mullah Yaqoob will be the acting defence minister, he announced.

Mujahid himself will be the information minister, Fasihuddin Badakhshani will be the army chief, and Mullah Hidayatullah will be the finance minister. The heads of various other ministries will be appointed soon, Mujahid added. “All groups have been represented in the cabinet,” he said.

The Taliban spokesman clarified that this is an “acting” government with “acting” ministers and will not be the future government. He further said Afghanistan had “gained freedom”, stressing that only the will of Afghans will be applicable in the country. “After today, no one will be able to interfere in Afghanistan,” he emphasised.

Mujahid said that the Taliban had been in contact with various countries and their envoys had visited Afghanistan. In response to a question, the spokesperson said the country will now be called the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

Acting Prime Minister’s statement 

Separately, in a written statement, Acting Prime Minister Mohammad Hasan Akhund congratulated Afghans for the “withdrawal of all foreign forces, end of the occupation and complete liberation of the country”.

“A caretaker and committed cabinet had been announced which will start working at the earliest”, he said, adding that the leaders will “work hard towards upholding Islamic rules and Sharia (Islamic law) in the country, protecting the country’s highest interests, securing Afghanistan’s borders, and ensuring lasting peace.

“We want to have a peaceful, prosperous and self-reliant Afghanistan, for which we will strive to eliminate all causes of war and strife in the country, and for our countrymen to live in complete security and comfort,” he added.

He also emphasised that the interim government will take “serious and effective steps” to protect human rights as well as the rights of minorities and underprivileged groups within the framework of the demands of Islam.

Terming education “one of the most important requirements”, the Taliban leader said it will be the government’s duty to provide a healthy and safe environment to all citizens to study religion and modern sciences.

He pointed out that the country had been suffering from war and economic crises for the last four decades. “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will use all its resources for economic strength, prosperity and development on top of strengthening security,” he assured.

Talking about the media, he said the government would work towards its freedom, functioning and improvement in quality. “We consider it our duty to take into account the sacred precepts of Islam, the national interest of the country and impartiality in our broadcasts,” he added.

Furthermore, the Taliban wanted to have “strong and healthy” relations with all countries based on mutual respect, he said. “We are committed to all international laws and treaties, resolutions and commitments that are not in conflict with Islamic law and the country’s national values,” Akhund stressed.

“We assure all foreign diplomats, embassies, consulates, humanitarian organisations and investors in the country that they will not face any problem. The Islamic Emirate is doing its best for their complete security and safety. Their presence is a need of our country, so they should carry out their work with peace of mind,” he added.

The Taliban, who swept to power last month, have been expected to announce a government since the United States-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.

As they transition from insurgency group to governing power, the Taliban have a series of major issues to address, including looming financial and humanitarian crises.