As the US and the world observed the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the Taliban raised their white flag over the Afghan presidential palace signalling the official start of the work of the new government, a spokesperson said. Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, the prime minister of the Taliban interim government, hoisted the banner in a low-key ceremony on Saturday, said Ahmadullah Muttaqi, multimedia branch chief of the group cultural commission.
The Taliban announced an interim government earlier this week and the all-male, all-Taliban government was met with disappointment by the international community which had hoped the hardline Islamist group would keep an earlier promise of an inclusive cabinet. The Taliban formed the interim “Islamic Emirate” and named hardliners in its new government, who oversaw the 20-year fight against the US-led military coalition, and it was dominated by members of the group’s old guard, with no women.
Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund has been appointed as interim Prime Minister with two deputies Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Molavi Abdul Salam Hanafi. Sirajuddin Haqqani has become Afghanistan’s interior minister, in charge of police and security. Haqqani is the leader of the Haqqani network, which is known to have links to al Qaeda. He is on the FBI’s most-wanted list and is a designated global terrorist.
The Taliban declared their government after the US ended its ‘forever war’ two weeks before the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and two weeks after the group returned to the Afghan capital on August 15 after sweeping through the countryside and major cities with lightning speed. They were driven away from Kabul by the US-led coalition forces in two months and defeated by December 7, 2001, and driven from their last holdout in southern Kandahar. Now as they are back in power, the Taliban issued harsh diktats, especially against Afghan women, such as banning women’s sports. They have also used violence to stop women demanding equal rights from protesting in Kabul and several other cities.
And on Saturday, the hundreds of women staged a march covered from head to toe in black veils in support of the Taliban. They marched briefly waving placards saying “the women who left don’t represent us,” referring to the many thousands who fled in fear of a Taliban crackdown on women’s rights. “We don’t want co-education,” read another banner.
Taliban director of higher education, Maulvi Mohammad Daoud Haqqani, said 9/11 was the day “the world started their propaganda against us calling us terrorists and blaming us” for the attacks in the United States.
(c) 2021 the Hindustan Times
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