The Afghan Taliban have appointed senior veterans to the posts of finance minister and defense minister, two members of the group said, as the focus shifts from stunning military conquest to how to manage a country in crisis.
The movement’s unexpectedly quick victory has made her struggle to rule, and alongside established Taliban names at the top, she has turned to several lower-ranking administrators to keep Kabul going.
The Taliban have not formally announced the appointments, which a commander said were tentative, but Afghan news agency Pajhwok said on Tuesday that Gul Agha had been appointed finance minister and Sadr Ibrahim acting interior minister.
Former Guantanamo detainee Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir was appointed acting defense minister, Al Jazeera news channel reported, citing a Taliban source.
A Taliban official in Kabul confirmed key ministerial appointments made this week after the Islamist terrorist group took control of all government offices, the presidential palace and parliament.
The official, who is associated with the group as a senior political strategist, added that provincial governors would be chosen from among some of the most experienced commanders of the 20-year war that has just ended.
A Taliban commander also confirmed key ministerial choices, but stressed that they had not yet been made official.
“Last night we had meetings in the presidential palace, we discussed these things but did not name or announce any,” said the commander, who did not want to be named because the details of the discussions had not yet been made public.
According to some experts, others named in government positions appeared to be mainly Taliban military leaders from the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar.
“They are household names,” said Ashley Jackson, co-director of the Center for the Study of Armed Groups at the Overseas Development Institute in Oslo, referring to the appointments.
“They (the Taliban) don’t exactly show much diversity or show a desire for civilian government.”
Gul Agha appears to be Gul Agha Ishakzai. As head of the Taliban’s financial commission, he has been identified as a target of UN sanctions.
He was a childhood friend of the late Taliban founder Mullah Omar, according to a UN/Interpol sanctions report.
“Once upon a time no one was allowed to meet Mullah Omar unless he had given permission,” the note reads.
Jackson said the appointment made sense because Gul Agha would have a parallel role to the one he played when the Taliban fought an insurgency, only in the government.
Zakir is an experienced Taliban commander on the battlefield and also a close associate of Omar.
He was captured when US-led troops invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and imprisoned in the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba until 2007, according to media reports.
He was released and handed over to the Afghan government.
Sadr, the appointee of the Ministry of Interior, is considered a powerful and trusted figure within the Taliban.
Last week, the Taliban appointed Haji Mohammad Idris as acting head of the central bank.
A senior Taliban official said Idris, from the northern province of Jawzjan, had long experience working over financial difficulties with the movement’s previous leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, who was killed in a drone attack in 2016.
In appointing loyalists to high-ranking positions, the Taliban have also ordered middle officials from the Ministry of Finance and the central bank to return to work.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters in Kabul on Tuesday that it was “time for people to work for their country”.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)