Taliban announces government as it faces growing crises and isolation

The Taliban formed its first caretaker government in Afghanistan since it swept to power last month, featuring several members that have been sanctioned by the UN for terrorism and an interior minister on the FBI’s most wanted list.

Mohammad Hassan Akhund, a close adviser to the late Taliban founder Mohammed Omar, will be acting prime minister, said Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid. Political chief Abdul Ghani Baradar, who led the group’s negotiations with the US, has been made deputy.

Mohammad Yaqoob, Taliban founder Omar’s son, has been appointed acting defence minister. Sirajuddin Haqqani, a senior leader of the Haqqani network who is wanted by the FBI for “cross-border attacks against the United States” and has a $5m bounty on his head, will be interior minister.

The Taliban revealed the line-up as it grapples with a growing humanitarian and economic crisis following the fall of Kabul. The appointments highlight the strong role in the movement of the Haqqani network, a group the US has designated a foreign terrorist organisation.

The new regime is under increasing pressure to provide government services after weeks of uncertainty and a chaotic mass evacuation of Afghans who worked with the US and its international allies.

Analysts said that the Taliban’s new government was dominated by its core leadership with few representatives from Afghanistan’s different ethnic groups or women.

“Definitely this is not an inclusive government at all for a country as diverse as Afghanistan. It has excluded women and many other ethnic communities,” said Ali Yawar Adili, country director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network. “It makes the engagement with the Taliban more complicated for the international community, because some of them are on the sanctions list, including the interior minister.”

The Taliban waited to announce the government until declaring victory over the resistance in Panjshir, Afghanistan’s last opposition stronghold, led by Ahmad Massoud, son of a legendary anti-Taliban fighter. Massoud has denied that the Taliban control the region and has vowed to continue the fight.

Former Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai and veteran politician Abdullah Abdullah did not secure roles in the new government, despite holding extensive talks with the Taliban leadership.

The formation of the new government, which took place without ceremony, comes after the Taliban broke up a demonstration in Kabul against Pakistan’s support for the regime, detaining journalists filming the march before releasing them.

The Taliban have suggested in recent press conferences that this is a caretaker government and that efforts would be made in the future to include political opponents.

The US and regional powers have made an inclusive government one of their preconditions for recognising the Taliban government, but analysts said it was unlikely the Islamists would ever meet that criteria.

“In our region of the world, every time someone says caretaker or interim it never necessarily means a temporary set-up,” said Obaidullah Baheer, a lecturer at the American University in Kabul. “They wouldn’t bring top-brass leadership in a temporary role.”

He added: “The Taliban on the face of this will use this as an excuse to explain why the government isn’t inclusive. I don’t think the international community is going to buy it.”

The Taliban’s “indifference to international recognition is alarming”, Baheer said.

Additional reporting by Fazelminallah Qazizai in Kabul