Early this week, the Taliban announced additional members of their cabinet, and once again, all of them are the old guard of the Taliban, despite promises of an inclusive government during peace talks. The 38 new members of the interim government of the Taliban were appointed to military and civilian positions.
On September 7th, the Taliban announced a “caretaker government”, many of the officials coming from the Taliban’s old guard, hardliners, and almost half of them are on international sanction or terrorist lists. The second announcement of the government’s high-ranking jobs is a major step towards reestablishing their dictatorial and extreme rule, similar to that of the 1990s.
Soon after the announcement of the cabinet, the supreme leader of the Taliban asked his cabinet members to uphold Sharia law. In his statement, Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada said that the Taliban want “strong and healthy relations with our neighbors and all other countries based on mutual respect and interaction.” However, he clarified that they would only respect international laws and treaties “that are not in conflict with Islamic law and the country’s national values”. He refers to the Taliban’s ideas of Islamic law and values, as most Afghans do not share the same radical views on the role of women, minorities, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and other principles of democracy and equality.
Over the past two years during the negotiations, the Taliban leaders gave assurances that they did not intend to monopolize power, that they would be more moderate than they were during the late 1990s when the Taliban was first in power, that women will be allowed to work in public offices, and that it will be an inclusive government. The two announcements of the members of the Taliban cabinet and other high-ranking officials in the new government indicate that the group’s conservative core and exclusive nature of ruling have not changed. Despite calls from the international community for a government that is representative of gender and ethnic diversity of Afghanistan, the group has continued to implement its core conservative values on the people.
ToloNews 10/5/21; BBC 9/7/21; AP 7/23/21