Days after the Taliban announced the names of cabinet members of the interim government in Afghanistan, it has now come to light that the acting Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund was chosen due to his close ties with the Pakistani ISI, reported Bloomberg.
Given his public stature and supposed ‘moderate views’, it was initially speculated that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar would be appointed as the acting Prime Minister of the Islamic Emirate. However, Baradar was sidelined for a lesser-known Talib i.e. Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund and appointed the latter’s deputy. Bloomberg News reported that one of the key factors influencing the decision was Hasan’s ‘better links with Islamabad’, besides not being a threat to the Haqqani network. Hasan was appointed by the supreme leader of the Taliban aka Maulvi Haibatullah Akhundzada.
Bloomberg News further informed that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was physically attacked by a Haqqani Network terrorist named Khalil ul Rahman Haqqani at the Presidential Palace in Kabul. The incident took place earlier this month during the discussion on the interim cabinet formation. Reportedly, Baradar wanted the inclusion of ethnic minorities and non-Talibs in the cabinet in hopes of being ‘acceptable’ to the world. However, Haqqani despised the idea and began assaulting Baradar. The scuffle soon escalated with bodyguards firing at each other, resulting in deaths and injuries.
Baradar was physically assaulted by Haqqani Network terrorist
Bloomberg News pointed out that Baradar was not injured in the attack but had left Kabul for Kandahar to speak to the Maulvi Haibatullah Akhundzada. The Haqqani network has four members in the interim cabinet, including the FBI’s most wanted terrorist Sirajuddin Haqqani. He was appointed the Acting Interior Minister of the Islamic Emirate. Baradar had spent 8 years in Pakistan prison and was released last year under the direction of the Donald Trump administration. Given that his ‘moderate views’ posed a threat to both Islamabad and the Haqqani network, Baradar was pushed to the sidelines.
Talibs deny claims of brawl, internal conflicts
Following the revelation of a ‘shoutout’ in the Presidential palace, Baradar had denied reports of internal conflicts within the Taliban regime. He alleged, “Praise be to God, I am safe and sound. Another statement made by the media that we have internal disputes is also completely not true.” Taliban spokesperson Bilal Karimi also claimed that there were no differences between the cabinet members and affirmed that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was not sidelined. “There are no differences among the leaders of the Islamic Emirate,” Karimi said. “They don’t brawl over any office or government positions,” he remarked.
Taliban announced all-male cabinet including UN-designated list of terrorists
On September 7, the Taliban announced a 33-member cabinet of the Afghan government, headed by Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund. Hassan had earlier served as the deputy prime minister of the first Taliban government between 1996 and 2001. He is also on the blacklist of the United Nations for participating in terrorist activities. However, the most eyebrow-raising appointment made by the Taliban was that of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the new acting interior minister, who heads the terror group known as Haqqani Network and is on the FBI’s most-wanted list.
The terror group is said to have close ties with the Taliban, which the appointment of Haqqani had confirmed. They have been behind some of the deadliest attacks in the country’s two-decade-long war – including a truck bomb explosion in Kabul in 2017 that killed more than 150 people. Unlike the wider Taliban, the Haqqani network has been designated a foreign terrorist organisation by the US. It also maintains close ties to al-Qaeda. Besides, the Taliban cabinet also includes four members who were held at the Guantanamo Bay, the American detainment camp, for 13 years before being exchanged in 2014 for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier kidnapped by the Taliban.