ISLAMABAD: A day after capturing Panjshir valley and completing their takeover of the entire country, the Taliban have announced key positions for the new caretaker government in Afghanistan just three weeks after a chaotic US troops pullout.
Addressing a press conference in Kabul on Tuesday, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said that the new interim government will be led by Mullah Hassan Akhund – head of state.
Mullah Akhund, who belongs to Kandahar province, had already served as deputy foreign minister, deputy prime minister and the governor of Kandahar under the Taliban’s old regime.
He was also a close aide of the late Taliban founder Mullah Omar.
Akhund is on a UN blacklist.
Mullah Baradar, the head of the Taliban’s political office, has been appointed as the first deputy or interim prime minister while Mawlavi Hannafi will be the second deputy of the head of state.
Fazel Akhund has been named chief of the Afghan armed forces and Mullah Yaqoub, son of the movement’s late founder, will be the acting defence minister, Mujahid announced.
The Afghan Taliban named Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the powerful Haqqani Network, as the acting interior minister.
Mawlavi Amir Khan Muttaqi will serve as foreign minister in the interim cabinet while Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai will be his deputy.
All the appointments are in an acting capacity, Mujahid told a news conference in Kabul.
Following their 20-year fighting, the Taliban now face the colossal task of ruling Afghanistan, which is wracked with economic woes and security challenges – including from the Islamic State, also known as Da’ish, group’s local chapter.
Scattered protests in recent days have indicated that some Afghans are skeptical of the Taliban’s capacity to translate their promise of a more moderate rule into reality.
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.
On Monday, the Taliban spokesperson said that they had taken complete control of Panjshir province, the last area in Afghanistan being held by resistance forces.
There was no immediate word from Ahmad Massoud, the leader of the opposition group resisting Taliban forces.
Mujahid informed of the victory in Panjshir in a tweet, stating that, “The last stronghold of the mercenary enemy, Panjshir province, was completely conquered.”
According to reports, Taliban fighters could not win complete victory in Panjshir, hence, the Badri Bridge was called in along with suicide attackers break the Panjshiri defensive lines.
It is after 43 years that the Massoud family has lost control of this remote valley.
The Taliban took control of the rest of Afghanistan three weeks ago, taking power in Kabul on August 15 after the Western-backed government collapsed and president Ashraf Ghani fled the country.