KABUL: Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar will lead a new Afghan government set to be announced soon, sources in the group said on Friday, as its fighters battled forces loyal to the vanquished republic in the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul.
Taliban also claimed that its army has taken control of the Panjshir Valley today evening.
But the new government’s most immediate priority may be to avert the collapse of an economy grappling with drought and the ravages of a 20-year conflict that killed around 240,000 Afghans before US forces completed a tumultuous pullout on Aug. 30.
At stake is whether the Taliban can govern a country facing economic meltdown, a humanitarian disaster and threats to security and stability from rival jihadist groups, including a local offshoot of Islamic State.
Baradar, who heads the Taliban’s political office, will be joined by Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, the son of late Taliban co-founder Mullah Omar, and Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, in senior positions in the government, three sources said.
“All the top leaders have arrived in Kabul, where preparations are in final stages to announce the new government,” a Taliban official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Haibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban’s supreme religious leader, will focus on religious matters and governance within the framework of Islam, another Taliban source said.
The Taliban, which seized Kabul on Aug. 15 after sweeping across most of the country, have faced resistance in the Panjshir Valley, where there have been reports of heavy fighting and casualties.
Several thousand fighters of regional militias and remnants of the government’s armed forces have massed in the rugged valley under the leadership of Ahmad Massoud, the son of former Mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Massoud.
Efforts to negotiate a settlement appear to have broken down, with each side blaming the other for the failure.
While the Taliban have spoken of their desire to form a consensus government, a source close to the Islamist militant movement said the interim government now being formed would consist solely of Taliban members.
It would comprise 25 ministries, with a consultative council, or shura, of 12 Muslim scholars, the source added.
Also being planned within six to eight months is a loya jirga, or grand assembly, bringing together elders and representatives across Afghan society to discuss a constitution and the structure of the future government, the source said.
All the sources expected the interim government’s cabinet to be finalised soon but differed over exactly when. Reuters