On Tuesday, the Taliban announced new names for the remaining cabinet positions in the interim government in the war-torn country. Among the new faces introduced by the group, there are senior military officials from the group’s southern centers appointed as deputies in critical ministries.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid announced that Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir was appointed as deputy defense minister, while Sadr Ibrahim will assume the post of deputy minister in the interior ministry. Both individuals were expected to take key positions in the Taliban’s interim government list, which had been announced earlier this month. However, none of them could take place in the announced cabinet list of the Taliban government.
Several UN reports identify the two Taliban officials as loyal commanders who are close to former Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour and in favor of accelerating the war against the Western-backed government.
A report issued by the UN Security Council in June stated that Zakir and Sadr administered key armed forces, known as Mahaz, that usually carried out operations across various provinces. Zakir is also known as one of the former detainees in the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and as a close aide of late Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Sadr, on the other hand, previously served as head of the Taliban military commission in the southern province of Helmand.
The latest appointments have expanded the influence of hardliners in the main group of ministers in the Taliban government, which included key figures such as Sirajuddin Haqqani.
On the other hand, those appointments had also been considered as the Taliban’s worries regarding balancing the regional and personal differences within the group in order to secure unity, as the group has been trying to accomplish a healthy transition from a guerrilla force to a peacetime administration.
There are other names introduced by the Taliban to fill the positions in the cabinet list. While Nooruddin Azizi was appointed to the Commerce and Trade Ministry, Mohammad Azim Sultanzada and Mohammad Bashir will serve as deputies in the same ministry. Additionally, Dr. Qalandar Ibad was named as the acting minister of health, while Dr. Abdul Bari Omar and Dr. Mohammad Hassan Ghiasi will be his deputies.
Announcing the new appointments, Spokesperson Mujahid said, “these appointments, which are largely based on professionalism and competence, will further strengthen and standardize the structure of the Islamic Emirate.”
In his remarks, Mujahid also stated that girls above sixth grade would return to schools soon.