A new Cabinet with old faces: Shafaqna Special

by Tauqeer Abbas

The victorious Taliban have crossed the bridge as they announced a 33-member interim cabinet, which largely comprises their commanders and peer leaders. Their resolve to govern the war-torn state as per constitutional decorum is most welcome. While announcing the ‘acting’ government, just days after the exit of foreign troops, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid remarked that the cabinet is not complete, and people from other parts of the country will soon be inducted. This assurance will go a long way in not only providing legitimacy and recognition to Taliban, but in also helping govern the country in an inclusive manner.

The Taliban’s own old guard, comprising mostly of its oldest, fiercest members, has been accommodated before anybody else and so far there’s no sign of Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, or even female, representation in the governing council. There’s still a number of positions to be filled, and the Taliban have promised to take everybody along, so perhaps the good news is yet to come. No doubt the Taliban understand that they will have to be a lot more flexible this time than their previous stint in government. Otherwise they will simply be deprived of the aid money they need to run the country. Western nations, led by America, who were beaten out of Afghanistan recently still retain this leverage over it. And it is, not surprisingly, the threat that they are holding over Kabul’s head now. Because if the new Taliban go about governing the country like they did in the 1990s, then there isn’t going to be any aid money for it. Already Washington has cut off its financial assistance, which was responsible for day-to-day running of Afghanistan, besides freezing the Afghan central bank’s assets abroad.

But this is also a double-edged sword. If pushed too hard against the wall there is the risk of the Taliban turning to poppy cultivation, to balance their budget so to speak, and then the torrent of narcotics that will sweep through Asia, across Europe and eventually to the American continent will become a very big problem for everybody. And it is pretty much in the Taliban’s hands to avoid such a scenario. They must, for the sake of their country and this region, form an inclusive government as quickly as possible. That will go a long way towards ending the uncertainty that has descended upon the country and encourage key stakeholders, especially Pakistan, China and Russia, to take very active part in its rebuilding.

Taliban instantly are in need of addressing two issues: broadening the base by including non-Taliban political leaders to make it a national government; and thinning their ideologue-orientation to help project a liberal working agenda. Inclusion of women and minority members in the government with proactive delegation of powers will win kudos. It’s high time for the militia to realise that it is destined to govern 40 million Afghans, and is no more an insurgency group. While Taliban have assured security, development and fair play, they need to walk the talk. An inclusive government with broad support in Afghanistan is a must.

Shafaqna Pakistan



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