Local media reports new government to have council headed by 53-year-old Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) – The Taliban have been delaying the formation of a government in Afghanistan since they took control of 33 provinces, including the capital Kabul, forcing former President Ashraf Ghani and other officials to flee the country on Aug. 15.
Most of the 33 provincial capitals have been taken over by the Taliban without bloodshed, but deadly clashes continue in Panjshir, the only province battling them, led by Ahmad Masoud — the son of Mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Masoud — and Bismillah Mohammadi, the Ghani government’s defense minister.
Taliban leader Sher Mohammad Stanikzai told a foreign news channel on Wednesday that the government would be established in two days, fueling speculations that it might be formed on Friday.
The Taliban, who signed a peace agreement with the US in Doha in February last year to withdraw all foreign forces from Afghanistan, have made no comment.
Despite signing the Doha Agreement, the Taliban officials have said explicitly that they intend to establish an “Islamic Emirate” under the leadership of their supreme leader, Mawlawi Hibbatullah Akhundzada.
Despite a clear-cut announcement from the Taliban side, a local Afghan news channel reported, quoting unknown sources, that the new government will have a council headed by 53-year-old Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
Baradar, who heads the Taliban’s political office, will be joined by Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, the son of late Taliban co-founder Mullah Omar, and Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai — the head of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar — in the new government’s senior positions, according to Tolo News.
A founding member of the Taliban movement in the 1990s, Baradar has served as provincial governor and deputy defense minister during the Taliban’s first rule in Afghanistan. He was arrested in the Pakistani port city Karachi in 2010 and released in October 2018 at the request of the US.
Akhundzada was born in 1961 in the southern Kandahar province’s Panjwai district, with a background as a religious leader who oversaw Islamic civil law and jurisprudence-related matters as the head of the judiciary during the Taliban regime from 1996 to 2001.
The Taliban leader hails from the powerful Nurzai clan of ethnic Pashtuns. He took over in 2016 after his predecessor Mullah Akhtar Mansour, who was killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province.
The Taliban are facing financial difficulties as the country’s assets are being stored outside, while the country’s people have not heard about the economic plans of the Taliban.
People are flocking to several banks even before the branches opened to withdraw money up to 20,000 Afghanis ($200), a weekly limit set by the country’s Central Bank after it remained closed for more than a week after the Taliban took over Kabul on Aug. 15.
Due to a lack of clarity regarding the country’s administration after the Taliban gained control of Kabul, the IMF has already stopped Afghanistan’s access to the Fund’s resources, including roughly $440 million in new monetary reserves.
While US officials said the majority of the Afghan Central Bank’s approximately $10 billion in assets are stored outside the country, they are likely beyond the Taliban’s reach.
Any Afghan Central Bank assets stored in the US would not be made accessible to the Taliban, the Joe Biden administration had told foreign media.