Mohammad Hasan Akhund to head Taliban 'caretaker' govt, Mullah Baradar his deputy
Kabul, Sep 7: The Taliban on Tuesday unveiled a hardline interim government led by Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund, with key roles being shared by high-profile members of the insurgent group, including a specially designated global terrorist of the dreaded Haqqani Network as the interior minister.
Mullah Hasan, the chief of the Taliban's powerful decision-making body ''Rehbari Shura'', will be the Acting Prime Minister while Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar will be his deputy in the "new Islamic government", Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said at a news conference in Kabul.
Sirajuddin Haqqani, a specially designated global terrorist and son of the famous anti-Soviet warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani who founded Haqqani Network, is the new acting interior minister in the 33-member Cabinet that has no woman member.
The Taliban had promised an "inclusive" government that represents Afghanistan''s complex ethnic makeup, but there is no Hazara member in the Cabinet.
Mullah Ameer Khan Muttaqi will be the new acting foreign minister while Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai will be his deputy, said Mujahid, who has been appointed as the deputy information minister.
Mulla Yaqoob, son of the Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar, will be the new acting defence minister. Yaqoob was a student of Taliban chief Mullah Hebatullah Akhundzada, who had earlier appointed him as head of the powerful military commission of the Taliban.
Mullah Hedayatullah Badri has been named as the acting minister of finance while Qari Fasihuddin Badakhshani will be the new army chief.
"The Cabinet is not complete, it is just acting," Mujahid said. "We will try to take people from other parts of the country."
In a written statement, Acting Prime Minister Mullah Hasan congratulated Afghans for the "withdrawal of all foreign forces, end of the occupation and complete liberation of the country", Dawn reported.
A caretaker and "committed" cabinet had been announced which will start working at the earliest, he said, adding that the leaders will "work hard towards upholding Islamic rules and Sharia (Islamic law) in the country, '' the paper reported.
"All governance and life in the country will henceforth be in accordance with Islamic law," said Mullah Hasan.
He is presently head of the Taliban's powerful decision-making body - Rehbari Shura or leadership council - which serves much like a government Cabinet running all the group''s affairs subject to the approval of the top leader.
Taliban chief Mullah Hebatullah Akhundzada himself proposed Mullah Hasan's name to head the government, according to media reports.
Mullah Hasan belongs to Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, and was among the founders of the armed movement. He worked for 20 years as head of Rehbari Shura and remained close to Mullah Hebatullah.
He had served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister during the Taliban''s previous government in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.
His interior minister - Sirajuddin Haqqani - is a specially designated global terrorist.
According to the FBI website, the US Department of State is offering a reward of up to USD 5 million for information leading directly to the arrest of Sirajuddin Haqqani, who maintains close ties to al Qaeda.
He is wanted for questioning in connection with the January 2008 attack on a hotel in Kabul that killed six people, including an American citizen. He is believed to have coordinated and participated in cross-border attacks against the US and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
He was also allegedly involved in the planning of the assassination attempt on Afghan President Hamid Karzai in 2008, the FBI website noted.
The announcement of the interim government comes days after Pakistan''s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt Gen Hameed dashed to Kabul on an unannounced visit last week.
It was earlier reported that the new government in Kabul would be based on the lines of the Iranian leadership, with the group''s top religious leader Mullah Hebatullah as Afghanistan''s supreme authority. However, it was not yet clear what role Mullah Hebatullah will play in the new government.
In Iran, the supreme leader is the highest political and religious authority of the country. He ranks above the president and appoints the heads of the military, the government, and the judiciary. The supreme leader has the final say in the political, religious and military affairs of the country.