FBI 'Wanted', UN Blacklisted: Here's a Look at New Ministers in Taliban Govt
Many have called out the Taliban for reneging on its promise of an inclusive government.
Video Producer: Shohini Bose
Video Editor: Sandeep Suman
The 'acting' Taliban government of Afghanistan, unveiled on Tuesday, 7 September, has met with widespread discontent, as many called out the militant organisation for reneging on its promise of an inclusive cabinet.
"As I speak today, the Taliban announced their government. It is anything but inclusive," Afghanistan's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) Ghulam Isaczai was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
More than half the office holders in the 33-member strong interim administration, headed by Prime Minister Mullah Hasan Akhund, find mention on the UN Security Council (UNSC)'s sanctions list.
The Taliban cabinet, which includes Sirajuddin Haqqani, a man who finds place on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)'s 'Wanted' list, is, needless to say, devoid of women.
Media reports suggest that the cabinet has been instituted after heated internal debate between the Taliban's military and political factions.
Here's a lowdown on the key leaders in the new Taliban government.
'One of the Original 30': Prime Minister Mullah Hasan Akhund
Mullah Hasan Akhund, a close associate of the Taliban founder Mullah Omar, has been named as the head of the interim government.
He is one of the founding members of the Taliban, and part of the original 30, who laid down the bedrock of the insurgency movement.
A Taliban veteran, touted as "one of the most effective Taliban commanders" by the UN, and "one of the most ineffective and unreasonable Taliban leaders" by a document of the United States' National Security Agency, Akhund has held great prominence within the ranks of the militant organisation.
A descendant of the Kakar tribe, Akhund has trained in Islam at various madrasas in Pakistan. According to a report by The Conversation, he has been schooled in a strict brand of Islamist ideology, known as Deobandism.
He had hitherto been the head of Rehbari Shura, the leadership council that is the Taliban’s decision-making body – a post he held for 20 years.
During the previous Taliban dispensation (1996-2001), Akhund had served as foreign minister, deputy prime minister, the governor of Kandahar, and the first deputy of the council of ministers.
The UNSC had, in 2001, placed Mullah Hasan Akhund on a sanctions list concerned with the “acts and activities” of the Taliban.
Taliban's Public Face: Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Ghani Baradar
Abdul Ghani Baradar, head of the Taliban's political office in Doha and the public face of the group, has been appointed as Deputy Prime Minister in the new Taliban dispensation.
Baradar is one of the pioneers of the hard-line Islamist group, and had co-founded the Taliban alongside his brother-in-law, Mullah Omar.
He is touted as one of the key architects behind Taliban's ascent to power in 1996, and had held several key positions in the then administration, including the post of the deputy minister of defence.
Years after the US's ousting of the Taliban from Afghanistan in 2001, Baradar had been tracked in Karachi by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), where he was arrested by the Pakistan's intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in 2010, as per The Guardian.
After eight years of incarceration, Donald Trump’s Afghan envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, in 2018, asked Pakistan to release Baradar so that he could lead peace negotiations in Qatar.
Baradar had signed the Doha agreement with the US in February 2020, in what had been seen as a breakthrough towards peace in the war-ravaged country.
A little over a year from the agreement, when the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan on 15 August 2021, Baradar, in an announcement, stated, “I want to congratulate the Muslim Afghan people on this huge victory."
'Wanted' by FBI: Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani
Son of anti-Soviet jihad commander Jalaludin Haqqani, Sirajuddin Haqqani is the head of Haqqani Network, a US-designated terror group.
According to the US State Department, the Haqqani-led terror group, which has close links with Al Qaeda, is believed to have introduced suicide bombing to Afghanistan.
Haqqani, who is one of the two deputies of Taliban's supreme leader Akhundzada, has been appointed as the interior minister of the government in Afghanistan.
Notably, the FBI labels Haqqani as a "specially designated global terrorist," who "should be considered armed and dangerous."
Finding a place on the FBI's 'Wanted' list, Haqqani is sought by the US intelligence agency for a number of crimes.
"Sirajuddin Haqqani is wanted for questioning in connection with the January 2008 attack on a hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed six people, including an American citizen. He is believed to have coordinated and participated in cross-border attacks against United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan. Haqqani also allegedly was involved in the planning of the assassination attempt on Afghan President Hamid Karzai in 2008."FBI
A bounty of up to $10 million has been offered to anyone who can provide information leading to his arrest.
'Invitations and Guidance Chair': Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi
Born in 1968 into the Suleimankhel tribe, in Afghanistan's Helmand province, Taliban's Amir Khan Muttaqi has been appointed as the foreign minister in the new regime.
When the militants were previously in power, Muttaqi had held the posts of the information and culture minister as well as the minister of education.
He had also served as a Taliban representative in the UN-led peace talks with the government of that time.
According to a Reuters report, Muttaqi has served as the chair of the Invitation and Guidance Commission of Taliban, which, during the insurgency, had sought to encourage the defection of Afghan government leaders.
Days after the fall of Kabul, The Guardian had reported that Muttaqi had engaged former Afghan President Hamid Karzai as well as former government official Abdullah Abdullah in talks over the formation of the new Taliban-led government.
Muttaqi finds a place on the UNSC sanctions list due to his involvement in the Taliban government.
Defence Minister Mullah Yaqoob
The newly-appointed defence minister of the Taliban government, Mullaq Yaqoob, is the eldest son of the founder and first supreme leader (emir) of the Taliban Mullah Omar.
Yaqoob, who, as per a UN document, "is reported to harbour ambitions to become the group's leader," serves as one of the two deputies of the present Taliban emir Akhundzada.
The son of the former emir is believed to have received his Islamic education in hard-line seminaries in Pakistan's Karachi.
In 2020, Yaqoob, who is in his early 30s, had been appointed as the head of Taliban's military commission.
The young member of the militants has also made significant contributions in achieving greater financial independence for the Taliban.
"Member States report that since becoming second deputy to Haibatullah Akhundzada, Mullah Yaqub has pursued greater financial independence for the Taliban, in part by focusing efforts on controlling unexplored mineral-rich areas of Afghanistan," a UN document notes.
The young Taliban leader is speculated to belong to a moderate school of thought as compared to his seniors.
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