Interim Afghan cabinet

New set-up hasn’t come as a surprise; it was expected that senior clergy would be calling the shots


September 09, 2021

The victorious Taliban have crossed the bridge as they announced a 33-member interim cabinet, which largely comprises their commanders and peer leaders. Their resolve to govern the war-torn state as per constitutional decorum is most welcome. While announcing the ‘acting’ government, just days after the exit of foreign troops, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid remarked that the cabinet is not complete, and people from other parts of the country will soon be inducted. This assurance will go a long way in not only providing legitimacy and recognition to Taliban, but in also helping govern the country in an inclusive manner.

The new set-up hasn’t come as a surprise. It was expected that senior clergy would be calling the shots. Thus, the nomination of Mohammad Hasan Akhund as prime minister and Abdul Ghani Baradar as his deputy indicates that Taliban want to consolidate their grip over power before embracing segments from other regions. Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks are yet to find a berth. Akhund, who is on the United Nations blacklist, will have to reorient himself as a responsible chief executive. Likewise, Sirajuddin Haqqani’s naming as interior minister will also be contested by the West. Whereas Amir Khan Muttaqi as foreign minister is not new to the establishment. Mullah Yaqoob, the son of Taliban founder Mullah Umar, as defence minister is a good pick, as it will buoy integration in the militia’s rank and file. Baradar, who was a signatory to the Doha Accord with the Americans, will be in the spotlight as the regime interacts with the world at large.

Taliban instantly are in need of addressing two issues: broadening the base by including non-Taliban political leaders to make it a national government; and thinning their ideologue-orientation to help project a liberal working agenda. Inclusion of women and minority members in the government with proactive delegation of powers will win kudos. It’s high time for the militia to realise that it is destined to govern 40 million Afghans, and is no more an insurgency group. While Taliban have assured security, development and fair play, they need to walk the talk. An inclusive government with broad support in Afghanistan is a must.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 9th, 2021.

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