Taliban leaders have been saying for some time: “We are trying to form a government that represents all the people of Afghanistan,” said Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a Taliban leader. He came to Kabul to discuss the formation of a new Taliban government.
“We want to live in peace,” said Jabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman. He made the promise at the Taliban’s first press conference in Kabul on August 15th after seizing power in Afghanistan at the speed of a storm. “We don’t want any enemies inside or outside the country.”
The Taliban must be evaluated through action: it has become a new mantra for foreign governments and global teams of Afghan experts who keep an eye on the Taliban.
But perhaps the Afghans themselves are keeping a close eye. Because they have no choice.
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But the day Afghan women in other cities, including Kabul, began protesting with placards and banners demanding their rights, and their greater role in government and society, the true face of the new Taliban government emerged.
Is this the media-conscious Taliban? They have organized an informal press conference to remove the empty bullets they fired to break up the protests, beating the protesters with rifle butts and sticks from the headlines of the world media. Although there has been a lot of interest in it on social media, what they have said is still relying on the promises of the Taliban who have broken their hearts.
The new version of the Taliban ?
The Taliban promised to form a government with everyone, but it did not happen. The old Taliban-led structure, its various commissions, deputies and omnipotent Amir Hebatullah Akhunzada – all have been placed within the cabinet, as can be seen in the political structures of other governments.
The Ministry of Ethics of the old Taliban government has been reinstated. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs has been dropped. The members of the government are mostly members of the Pashtun ethnic group. There are Tajiks and Hazaras in the cabinet – both members of the Taliban. Not a single woman was given a place in the cabinet. There is no woman even in the rank of Deputy Minister.
The new Taliban government is made up of old Taliban leaders and a new generation of mullahs and military commanders. Those who led the Taliban in the 1990s are back. The color of their beards is now white, the length of their beards has also increased. The government has some members returning from Guantanamo Bay. How many blacklisted members of the United States and the United Nations? There have been a number of captains who have been involved in intense fighting over the past few months, and some self-proclaimed peace negotiators who have traveled around the country trying to convince everyone that this is a new version of the Taliban.
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Some of these names are eye-catching. Some names may seem provocative. For example, the head of the caretaker cabinet is Mullah Hasan Akhund. He is one of the founders of the Taliban. His name is on the UN sanctions list.
Strict Islamic discipline or compromise?
Home Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani in the caretaker government. His pictures are rare to find. Only a poster from the FBI shows her face, with her face half covered in a brown sheet. The FBI has put a price tag of লক্ষ 5 million on his head.
But he recently became famous for writing an article in the influential New York Times in 2020. In this article he calls for peace. However, he did not say that the name Haqqani Network came from his family, and that the group was blamed for some of the most brutal attacks on Afghan civilians. The Haqqani family insists they have no terrorist group, and they are now members of the Taliban.
Mullah Yaqub has become the defense minister of the Taliban’s caretaker government. He has no pictures. In the cabinet list, there are empty rooms in place of his picture. He is the eldest son of Amir Mullah Omar, the founder of the Taliban.
But it is only an interim government. At a press conference in Kabul, when reporters began asking questions in droves, it was announced that more cabinet names would be announced in the future. “We are not going to announce the names of all the ministries and deputies right now. The list could be even bigger,” Ahmadullah Wasek, deputy head of the Taliban’s cultural affairs commission, told the BBC.
This may be the first step in rewarding Taliban leaders and fighters. Many of them are coming to Kabul in droves to welcome the return of a ‘sahih Islamic system’.
This government can also be seen as a carefully crafted compromise. Suddenly, Mullah Akhund’s name has risen to the top. In one fell swoop, he ousted political and military leaders. Many thought that Mullah Baradar would be the top leader. But he had to be satisfied with the post of Deputy Prime Minister.
Taliban leaders have simultaneously excluded some political leaders from the past, particularly those accused of corruption. In their case, the Taliban’s argument is that they have once tasted power.
I still hear a word from Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, a pro-Taliban negotiator. He is now the Deputy Foreign Minister of the new government. He was like that before.
When I asked him after the Taliban’s historic peace deal with the United States in February 2020, what would he say to Afghans who are worried about the Taliban’s return to power? In response, he insisted, “I will tell them we will form a government that is acceptable to the majority of Afghans.” The emphasis here is on the term majority. This means that this government will be formed on the basis of traditional values, not on what they ridicule as a Western concept.