The 20 or so appointees include only a few representatives of non-Pashtun ethnicities

Taliban completes its "inclusive" government without women

AP/RAHMAT GUL - Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid

Afghanistan's new administration was officially left without women after the Taliban on Tuesday appointed the rest of the members of a government that aims to be "inclusive": all men and a few members of minorities, with the aim of finally achieving international recognition.

In addition to the absence of women, the 20 or so appointed officials include only a few representatives of non-Pashtun ethnic groups - the majority of the Taliban - or other minorities, almost all of them in secondary or subordinate positions.

The Islamist government's deputy communications minister and chief Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, nevertheless assured that these appointments "were made on the basis of professionalism and merit and will further strengthen the human resources of the Islamic Emirate".

The official exclusion of women comes days after the dissolution of the Ministry of Women's Affairs, a government body created in 2001 to promote women's rights and active participation in the country's social and political life.

Mujahid, who announced the posts at a press conference in Kabul, said that in the future "they will appoint women to some positions".

The spokesman also insisted that they are "committed to women's rights" but that they need more time to develop "some regulations and rules for women", and said they are working to "open soon" secondary schools for girls.

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The appointments today removed some doubts about the degree of inclusiveness the fundamentalists would allow in their new government, even though they had promised after coming to power and weeks of debate that they would represent the whole country.

Among the few choices outside the Pashtun circle were Haji Noor Uddin, the new trade minister; two deputy ministers from the same office, all three members of the Tajik ethnic group; and Dr Muhammad Hassan Ghyasi, the second deputy minister of public health, and a member of the embattled Hazara minority.

Mullah Sadar Ibrahm was also appointed as deputy interior minister for security, Mullah Abdul Qayoom Zakir as the new deputy defence minister, and pro-Taliban analyst Nazar Muhammad Mutmaeen as acting head of the Afghan Olympic Committee, further increasing the Islamists' share of power.

The Taliban had already announced on 7 September the main members of its administration, which now consists of 21 portfolios, many of them members of the hard-line fundamentalist group, with Mullah Hassan Akhund as prime minister.

El portavoz talibán Zabihullah Mujahid

With this somewhat more "inclusive" government, the Taliban hope that they can soon receive recognition from the international community, which continues to demand guarantees of security and respect for rights and freedoms.

"All international requirements for statehood have been fulfilled, now it is the responsibility of the international community to officially recognise us," said the Taliban spokesman.

The lack of international recognition keeps Afghanistan and the Taliban not only geopolitically isolated, but also without resources, as international organisations have frozen most of the funds available to Afghanistan.

But in the Taliban's view, the international community must first recognise them as a government, and then "they can share their concerns with us through diplomatic channels".

Without access to international reserves and aid funds, the government is currently working "day and night" to resolve "ongoing economic problems", said Mujahid, who noted that they are being advised by countries such as Iran, Qatar and Pakistan to obtain "official recognition" as soon as possible.

The executive's relief plans now focus on getting Washington to allow access to Afghan reserves in the US and creating internal revenue collection mechanisms.

With this "economic problems will be solved to some extent and poverty will decrease", he promised.

El mulá Baradar Akhund, un alto cargo de los talibanes, sentado con un grupo de hombres

The Taliban spokesman also referred to the threat of the jihadist group Daesh, after several attacks last weekend in the eastern province of Nangarhar claimed by this group, which caused at least six deaths and around twenty wounded, most of them Taliban.

Mujahid pledged that "these will be the last attacks", because, according to him, in Afghanistan this movement does not have "popular support and groups without public support cannot generate challenges to the government".

He also downplayed external concerns about the presence of foreign fighters and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, saying that this is just "propaganda", and guaranteed that "no group will be allowed to use Afghan soil against others".

"We are committed to our promise," he reaffirmed, referring to the pact signed with the US last year, which agreed to the withdrawal of international troops.