Taliban Announces Additional Government Officials—All Male, and All Members of Their Old Guard

Taliban fighters on May 28, 2012. The Afghanistan government appointments released this week are the latest indication the Taliban has no intention of improving their treatment of women and minority groups. (Department of Defense / Lt. Joe Painter)

Early this week, the Taliban announced additional members of their Cabinet, and once again, all of them are part of the old guard of the Taliban, despite promises of an inclusive government during peace talks. The 38 new members of the interim government of the Taliban were appointed to military and civilian positions. The leadership team still doesn’t include a single woman.

On Sept. 7, the Taliban announced a “caretaker government”—many of them officials from the Taliban’s old guard and hardliners. In fact, almost half are on international sanction or terrorist lists. The second announcement of the government’s high-ranking jobs is a major step towards reestablishing their dictatorial and extreme rule, similar to that of the 1990s.

Soon after the announcement of the Cabinet, the supreme leader of the Taliban asked his Cabinet members to uphold Sharia law. In his statement, Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada said the Taliban want “strong and healthy relations with our neighbors and all other countries based on mutual respect and interaction.” However, he clarified that they would only respect international laws and treaties “that are not in conflict with Islamic law and the country’s national values.”

Most Afghans do not share the same radical views on the role of women, minorities, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and other principles of democracy and equality.

Over the past two years during the negotiations, the Taliban leaders gave assurances that they did not intend to monopolize power, that they would be more moderate than they were during the late 1990s when the Taliban was first in power, that women will be allowed to work in public offices, and that it will be an inclusive government. The two announcements of the members of the Taliban Cabinet and other high-ranking officials in the new government indicate that the group’s conservative core and exclusive nature of ruling have not changed. Despite calls from the international community for a government that is representative of gender and ethnic diversity of Afghanistan, the group has continued to implement its core conservative values on the people.

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Makhfi Azizi is the director of the Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls at the Feminist Majority Foundation. She has been working with the foundation in this capacity for two years and works on issues of human rights, peace and security. Makhfi is dedicated to women’s equality, peace and democracy.