Taliban co-founder Mullah Baradar set to head Taliban government in Afghanistan

Mullah Yaqoob, son of late Taliban founder and Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai to be senior members of new regime: sources

Updated - November 22, 2021 09:36 pm IST

Published - September 03, 2021 07:01 pm IST

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

Taliban co-founder Mullah Baradar will lead a new Afghan government that could be announced soon, sources in the Islamist group said on Friday, as it battled rebel fighters and tried to ward off economic collapse.

Mullah Baradar, who heads the Taliban’s political office, will be joined by Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, the son of late Taliban founder Mullah Omar, and Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai in senior positions in the government, three sources said. “All the top leaders have arrived in Kabul, where preparations are in the final stages to announce the new government,” a Taliban official told Reuters.

The announcement of a new administration, earlier expected to be made after Friday afternoon prayers, would now not happen until Saturday at the earliest, a Taliban spokesman said.

The Taliban seized Kabul on August 15 .

While the West has adopted a wait-and-see approach to the Taliban, China confirmed a tweet from a Taliban spokesman indicating that Beijing will keep its embassy in Kabul open. “We hope the Taliban will establish an open and inclusive political structure, pursue moderate and stable domestic and foreign policy, and make a clean break with all terrorist groups,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.

The United Nations said it had restarted humanitarian flights to parts of the country, linking the Pakistani capital Islamabad with Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan and Kandahar in the south.

Several thousand fighters of regional militias and remnants of the government’s armed forces have massed in the rugged valley under the leadership of Ahmad Massoud, the son of former Mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Massoud.

Efforts to negotiate a settlement appear to have broken down, with each side blaming the other for the failure.

Economy in distress

The government’s legitimacy in the eyes of international donors and investors will be crucial for an economy grappling with drought and the ravages of a conflict that killed an estimated 2,40,000 Afghans.

Humanitarian groups have warned of impending catastrophe and the economy, reliant for years on many millions of dollars of foreign aid, is close to collapse. Many Afghans were struggling to feed their families amid severe drought well before the Taliban took power and millions may now face starvation, aid agencies say.

“Since August 15, we have seen the crisis accelerate and magnify, with the imminent economic collapsethat is coming this country’s way,” Mary-Ellen McGroarty, director of the World Food Programme in Afghanistan, said.

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has no plans to release billions in Afghan gold, investments and foreign currency reserves parked in the United States that it froze after the Taliban’s takeover.

In a positive development, a senior executive of Western Union Co said the firm was resuming money-transfer services to Afghanistan in line with a U.S. push to keep up humanitarian work.

The Taliban enforced a radical form of sharia, or Islamic law, when it ruled from 1996 to 2001.

But this time around, the movement has tried to present a more moderate face to the world, promising to protect human rights and refrain from reprisals against old enemies.

The United States, the European Union and others have cast doubt on such assurances, saying formal recognition of the new government, and the resultant flow of economic aid, was contingent on action.

The Taliban have promised safe passage out of the country for any foreigners or Afghans left behind by the huge airlift that ended when U.S. troops withdrew ahead of an August 31 deadline. But, with Kabul airport still closed, many were seeking to flee over land.

Thousands of Afghans, some without documents, others with pending U.S. visa applications or whose families have mixed immigration status, also wait in “transit hubs” in third countries.

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