Monday September 20, 2021

Taliban nominate Mullah Hasan Akhund as head of state

Mullah Ameer Khan Muttaqi has been nominated as the new foreign minister
September 06, 2021
Taliban Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid at Kabul airport after the withdrawal of US forces. File photo
Taliban Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid at Kabul airport after the withdrawal of US forces. File photo

PESHAWAR: After days of consultations, the Afghan Taliban Sunday nominated Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund as the new head of state, according to senior Taliban leaders.

Taliban said they had made all preparations for announcing the government on Monday (today) but it was postponed due to “some unavoidable” reasons. They said the new government was likely to be installed on Wednesday, “or may get delayed for a few more days”.

“Ameerul Momineen Sheikh Hibatullah Akhunzada had himself proposed Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund as Raees-e-Jamhoor, or raees-ul-wazara or the new head state of Afghanistan. Mullah Baradar Akhund and Mullah Abdus Salam will work as his deputies,” a senior Taliban leader told The News. This correspondent spoke to three Taliban leaders and all of them confirmed Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund’s nomination.

Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund is presently head of the Taliban’s powerful decision-making body, Rehbari Shura or leadership council. He 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 earned himself a very good reputation. He is a religious leader rather than a military background and is known for his character and devotion,” said another Taliban leader.

He said Mullah Hasan remained close to Sheikh Hibatullah Akhunzada for 20 years. According to Taliban, Mullah Hasan had worked on important positions during their previous government in Afghanistan. He was foreign minister and then made deputy prime minister when Mullah Mohammad Rabbani Akhund was the prime minister.

Similarly, the Taliban said another veteran Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of the Haqqani Network, is proposed as federal interior minister.

He has also been authorised to nominate governors for the eastern provinces, from where the Haqqani Network used to draw its force. They are Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Gardez, Nangarhar and Kunar.

Similarly, Mullah Yaqoob, son of Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar, has been approved as Afghanistan’s defence minister. Mullah Yaqoob was a student of Sheikh Hibatullah Akhunzada in his madrassa and renamed close to him.

According to the Taliban sources, Sheikh Hibatullah Akhunzada has always respected Mullah Yaqoob due to his father and Yaqoob’s dedication to his work. It was Sheikh Habibullah who appointed Mullah Yaqoob as commander in chief of their armed fighters and then chose him as head of the powerful military commission.

Mullah Yaqoob personally led the recent armed campaign and first started taking over the rural areas, including districts, and then decided to capture provinces across the country.

People close to Mullah Yaqoob told The News that he would take little sleep during the operations and depended on medicines. Some senior Taliban leaders then advised him against taking too much pain.

Also, according to the Taliban sources, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid was earlier tasked to be appointed as the new information minister but the leadership changed their mind and decided to engage him as spokesman for the head of the state, Mullah Hasan Akhund.

Mullah Ameer Khan Muttaqi has been nominated as the new foreign minister, according to the Taliban sources. Insiders among the Taliban said there were some minor issues over certain responsibilities, which, they claimed, had been resolved.