Kabul: Weeks after seizing control of Kabul, the Taliban have announced an interim government in Afghanistan to be led by Mullah Hasan Akhund. The caretaker Cabinet paid homage to the old guard of the group, giving top posts to Taliban personalities who were said to be the prime faces behind its 20-year battle against the US-led coalition and its Afghan government allies.
Interim Prime Minister Mullah Hasan Akhund headed the Taliban government in Kabul during the last years of its rule.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who had led talks with the United States and signed the deal that led to America’s final withdrawal from Afghanistan, will be one of two deputies to Akhund.
Akhund’s appointment as Taliban government’s head came days after Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed’s visit to the war-torn nation amid the Taliban preparing its plan for the government formation.
The ISI chief, who became the only high-ranking foreign official to visit Kabul since the Taliban seized the Afghan capital in mid-August, as per reports met Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Afghanistan.
Who is Mullah Hasan Akhund?
Mullah Akhund has worked for 20 years as head of Rahbari Shura and earned himself a very good reputation. “He is a religious leader rather than a military background and is known for his character and devotion,” says Taliban chief Hibatullah Akhundzada.
Belonging to Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, Akhund is currently the head of Taliban’s ‘Rahbari Shura’, better known as ‘Quetta Shura’ or leadership council, which is based in Pakistan’s Quetta.
All power of this leadership council, however, lies with the Taliban chief.
Akhund, among the many founders of the group, studied in various madrasas in Pakistan.
Considered to be one of the most ineffective and unreasonable Taliban leaders, Akhund was never given any important post in the last regime of Taliban other than stop-gap arrangements for a brief period.
Listed as a terrorist by the United Nations, Akhund supervised the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in March 2001.
There were as per earlier reports many differences in the insurgent group with regard to government formation.
The first was between the leaders of the Doha political team headed by Mullah Baradar and the Taliban’s military chief Mullah Yakub over Baradar heading the proposed government.
Yakub, as per a report, said those living in luxury in Doha cannot dictate terms to those involved in jihad against the United States and the then Afghan government.
The comment was an obvious reference to Mullah Baradar, Sher Mohammed Stanekzai and others, who handled the Taliban political office in Doha.
Earlier on Friday, it was reported that Mullah Baradar was injured during a fistfight with Anas Haqqani, the brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani, who serves as a deputy leader of the Taliban and currently commands the Haqqani network.
Haqqanis and a few other Taliban members were against Baradar’s appointment as the head and that was apparently one of the main reasons for the ISI chief’s sudden visit to Kabul. The ISI chief is said to have brokered the new power-sharing deal following internal disputes among the various factions.
Mullah Yakub will, as per reports, be the defence minister, while Sirajuddin Haqqani, the face of the Haqqani network, is proposed as federal interior minister.
Mullah Ameer Khan Muttaqi has reportedly been nominated as the new foreign minister. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid will be the spokesman for the head of the state. It was earlier reported that Mujahid would be the new information minister.