Taliban co-founder Mullah Baradar will head a new Afghan government to be announced soon, sources in the Islamist group said on Friday, as its fighters fought forces loyal to the defeated republic in the Panjshir Valley, north of Kabul. .
However, the new government’s most immediate priority should be to prevent the collapse of a drought-stricken economy and the devastation of a conflict that killed an estimated 240,000 Afghans.
Baradar, the head of the Taliban’s political office, will be accompanied by Mullah Mohammad Yacoub, son of the late Taliban co-founder Mullah Omar, and Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, senior positions in the government, three sources said.
The government, directed by a supreme religious leader, is a ruling model the Taliban borrowed from neighboring Iran. Governing Afghanistan is going to be an administrative and economic challenge and the Taliban will be eager for international recognition. Until that happens, global aid to a country grappling with another humanitarian crisis will not resume.
“All the top leaders have reached Kabul, where preparations to announce a new government are in the final stages,” a Taliban official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The Taliban’s supreme religious leader, Haibatullah Akhunzada, will focus on religious affairs and governance within the framework of Islam, another Taliban source said.
The Taliban, which swept Kabul over much of the country on 15 August, met resistance in the Panjshir Valley, where there have been reports of heavy fighting and casualties.
Several thousand fighters of the regional militia led by Ahmed Masood, son of former Mujahideen commander Ahmed Shah Masood, and the remains of the government’s armed forces have accumulated in the rugged valley.
Efforts to negotiate a settlement appear to have failed, with each side blaming the other for the failure.
While the Taliban have spoken of their desire to form a consensus government, a source close to the insurgent movement said the interim government now being formed will only have Taliban members.
The source said it would comprise 25 ministries, with 12 being an advisory council or shura of Muslim scholars.
A loya jirga or grand gathering is also being planned within six to eight months, bringing together elders and representatives of Afghan society to discuss a constitution and the structure of a future government, the source said. Is.
All sources were hopeful that the interim government’s cabinet would be finalized soon, but some said it would be resolved later on Friday, while others felt it would go on till the middle of next week.
The legitimacy of the government will be important in the eyes of international donors and investors. Humanitarian groups have warned of impending catastrophe and the economy, which has been dependent for years on millions of dollars in foreign aid, is on the verge of collapse.
Aid agencies say that before the Taliban came to power, many Afghans were struggling to feed their families amid severe drought and millions could now face starvation.
“Since August 15, we have seen the crisis intensify and escalate with the imminent economic collapse coming this country’s way,” Mary-Ellen McGarty, director of the World Food Program in Afghanistan, told Reuters from Kabul.
US President Joe Biden’s administration has no plans to release billions in Afghanistan’s gold, investments and foreign exchange reserves held in the United States, which were frozen after the Taliban takeover.
In a positive development, a senior executive at Western Union Company (WU.N) said the remittance firm was restarting money-transfer services in Afghanistan, to put pressure on the US to continue humanitarian operations.
The Taliban enforced a radical form of Sharia or Islamic law when they ruled from 1996 to 2001.
But this time, the movement has tried to present a more liberal face to the world, promising to protect human rights and avoid retaliation against old enemies.
The United States, the European Union and others have cast doubt on such assurances, saying that formal recognition of the new government, and a consequent influx of economic aid, is dependent on action.