The interim government (on Afghanistan’s new government) -The Nation

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The Afghan Taliban’s interim government was imminent to come into existence and hence it is in place. The major share of power has gone in the hands of the Qandahari Taliban, which will actually dominate the government.

It is ironic to note that the new cabinet consists of at least 14 UN designated terrorists. Sirajuddin Haqqani, who has been given the Ministry of Interior, is one of the FBI’s most wanted men, due to his involvement in suicide attacks and ties with Al Qaeda. The US State Department has offered a bounty of up to $10 million for information leading to his arrest.

The key post of “Prime Minister” of the interim government has been awarded to Mullah Hassan Akhund, former Deputy Prime minister of Mullah Umer. This new cabinet in fact consists of almost the entire cabinet of Mullah Umer and it seems as if he is back in power; Mullah Hasan is on the top of UNSC’s terrorism blacklist including his deputy, Abdul Ghani Baradar. The UNSC has not yet added their names in the list of wanted persons.

Four of the five leaders known as the “Taliban Five” from the 33-member interim Cabinet were once held at Guantanamo Bay. They include Mullah Mohammad Fazil (deputy defence minister), Khairullah Khairkhwa (information and culture minister), Mullah Noorullah Noori (Borders and Tribal Affairs minister) and Mullah Abdul Haq Wasiq (Director of Intelligence). The fifth member of the group, Mohammad Nabi Omari, has been appointed as the governor of the eastern province, Khost.

The acting Defence Minister Mullah Yaqoob, acting Foreign Minister Mullah Ameer Khan Muttaqi and his deputy Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai are all listed under the UNSC sanctions list.

The list of cabinet members shows that out of 33, fourteen are under bounty starting from 5 million to 50 million and these notifications are intact in the UN section dealing with terrorism.

The Taliban had also promised an “inclusive” government including complex ethnic makeup in order to garner support from Tehran, but there is no Hazara member in the Cabinet. All of the Cabinet ministers consist of Taliban leaders who have fought against the US-led coalition forces since 2001.

This means these cabinet ministers are not safe from the eyes of the US/UNSC and they may not come out in the open to play their role in government until these international restrictions and sanctions are lifted.

Despite making a commitment with the international community, they have also not included a female member in their cabinet. The Taliban announced just yesterday that no Afghan was allowed to leave the country anymore. They have further announced that all previous ministers/secretaries/officials should declare their assets along with the sources which means trials are underway.

It has been reported that Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Abdullah Abdullah and Former President Hamid Karzai were promised certain positions in the government but according to sources close to them, they are now like hostages in Kabul as confirmed by them to some of their close aides in Kabul. The UN must do something for their security and the safety of their lives. I used to say in every meeting to President Hamid Karzai that there are no good or bad Taliban, but only the Taliban.

On the other hand, in Pakistan, we are worried about the presence of TTP’s self-exiled militants from Balochistan including Molvi Faqir Mohammed and Ikramullah, the second bomber in Kunar, Afghanistan who had escaped from the murder scene of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto.

The Taliban are neither controlled by Pakistan nor by anybody in the world now, as they are on the loose. One good news is that Abdullah Orakzai, known as Farooq Aslam, the head of the Daesh Pakistan was killed by the Taliban yesterday and we hope that the Taliban will handover Ikram Ullah, the surviving second suicide bomber of SMBB to Pakistan.

Reportedly, Ahmed Shah Masood, an ex-graduate of King’s College London had left the country but rumour has it that he is coming back. Although the Panjsheries have surrendered the main road, they are resisting Afghan Taliban forces in Panjshir Valley. Ahmad Masood, son of the leader of the Northern Alliance, Ahmad Shah Masood known as the “Lion of Panjshir ‘’, finds himself landed in a situation similar to that of his father as he will now be confronted with Taliban’s 2.0 version. On August 18 2021, after the dramatic invasion of Afghanistan by the Taliban, an article was published in The Washington Post by Ahmad Masood where he claimed to have forces including the Afghan Mujahideen, soldiers of the Afghan regular army as well as former members of the Afghan Special Forces to mount an effective resistance against the Taliban, but he also called on the “friends” from the west especially the United States to supply arms and ammunition to his militia and I do not think that the US will opt for any such reunification or venture of this kind in Afghanistan.

I think it will be very difficult for this young Panjsheri to sustain the defence if he is not supported by the west or any other country.

Amarullah Saleh, despite all the tall claims of resistance and fight against Taliban to the last breath, has fled away to Tajikistan. A week ago, when the Taliban claimed victory in Panjshir, the strong foothold of the “National Resistance Front” headed by Ahmad Masood, the head of their Foreign Relations Ali Maisam Nazary refuted the claims in a Facebook post saying that the Taliban’s claim of occupying Panjshir was false and the struggle against the Taliban continued. He also said that both the leaders of NRF, Ahmad Masood and Amarullah Saleh were very much in Afghanistan; they had not fled anywhere.

It is very much likely that India will support this resistance led by Ahmad Masood against the Taliban since the fall of the twenty years of a democratic and inclusive system in which India invested more than $3 billion, has given a tragic blow to India. It would be a very difficult move but the NRF is now the only viable option to regain its lost strategic interests in Afghanistan against Pakistan.

Pakistan is in a highly vulnerable position as we are surrounded by terrorists given the fact that Pak TTP, Al-Qaeda and Daesh are present on our border and are not far from Chitral Border. India will definitely use them for a hybrid war in Pakistan.

In the past two decades, the US has spent a tremendous amount of money to conduct “wars on terror” in 85 countries, killing people and causing numerous refugee crises. This 20-year war has harmed Americans particularly and the world in general.

Will the US turn a blind eye towards the Afghan Taliban government or once again put Pakistan under pressure to do more in Afghanistan? It may start the old story of “do more” syndrome once again. This time we must not commit this mistake and should make our future policy as a joint venture with China, Iran, Russia, Turkey and Pakistan should make efforts for the recognition of the Afghan government as a bloc and India may also be invited to end the unnecessary propaganda against Pakistan.

Pakistan must take well-thought out steps to avoid isolation in the matter of recognition of Afghanistan as we are already infected with international diplomatic isolation. We must also try to bring the US on board too as they have already started the supply of humanitarian goods in Afghanistan. The American money in Afghan banks has been allowed to be used by Afghan ministries.

The international community should immediately call upon a UN session on Afghanistan and consider deploying a “peacekeeping force” to avoid chances of dead bodies like in Eastern Syria. I have written this article from abroad where I am on a brief visit to various international intellectual forums and watching some anti-Pakistan media duly sponsored by India. I have placed the true picture of the present situation in Afghanistan.

Here I would like to present two proposals for every stake holder in the Afghan government. The first is that the Taliban government should become moderate and give women their rights of education, media and job opportunities considering the fact that if females could fight in the battlefield of Uhud then why not they work in the buildings of Afghanistan. Secondly, they should announce a general amnesty for every one like our Prophet did, after the victory of Makkah.

Pakistan may create a bloc of five powerful countries for proposed recognition, subject to certain conditions. The emotional claims from some of the authorities in Pakistan must come to end as these will be harmful in the long run. Let the world appreciate that China pledged 31 million dollars’ of humanitarian aid (food and medicine) to Afghanistan. Pakistan has also delivered medicines via PIA. let us hope other countries will also come forward to do the needful for the people of Afghanistan.

The views expressed are solely mine and do not necessarily represent the views of my party.