With this announcement, Afghanistan’s secret believers fear what’s next, says Open Doors’ communications director for Asia. “The Taliban stands for Shariah law in perhaps its most extreme form,” he explains. “These leaders have been appointed in the new cabinet; they were not chosen. And the reason these individuals were picked is because they adhere to the Taliban ideology.”
The new government is made up of senior Taliban leaders and includes no women—the opposite of the “inclusive government” the Taliban promised three weeks ago.
The absence of women from the cabinet isn’t surprising, given that the group appointed Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund as the country’s acting prime minister. Akhund’s edicts in the 1990s, adopted by the Taliban, included the banning of women’s education, enforcing gender segregation and the adoption of strict religious garb.
Akhund’s appointment is also serious concern for religious minorities in Afghanistan. His beliefs include the denial of civil rights for ethnic and religious minorities. He studied and adheres to a brand of strict Islamist ideology, known as Deobandism, which upholds global jihad as a sacred duty to protect Muslims across the world and is opposed to any non-Islamic ideas. Akhund is on a US blacklist and is seen as a religious influence in the Taliban.
Another notable appointment is Sirajuddin Haqqani, the new Acting Minister of Interior, a known extremist who’s part of the FBI’s most wanted list. He is reported to have a 5 million USD bounty on his head. Haqqani, is the head of the Haqqani militant group, which is among the most militant factions of the Taliban and has been behind some of the deadliest attacks in the last two decades, including a 2017 truck bomb explosion in Kabul that killed more than 150 people. The Haqqani network has been designated a foreign terrorist organization by the US and maintains close ties to al-Qaeda.