Afghans hope for end to power vacuum as Taliban prepare to announce government

A man on his bicycle rides past a convoy of Taliban fighters patrolling along a street in Kabul on Thursday. The Taliban are preparing to unveil their new government. (AFP)

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  • New government could be revealed as soon as on Friday, says militant group

SHERSHAH NAWABI September 02, 2021 

KABUL: The Taliban said on Thursday they were preparing to unveil their government, with Afghans hoping it will happen soon as the country urgently needs a new administration after its state institutions collapsed over two weeks ago.

The Taliban took control of Afghanistan earlier this month and seized Kabul on Aug. 15, as US-led forces were completing their withdrawal.

The group that returned to power after 20 years of insurgency, following their removal by a US-led invasion in 2001, is now faced with the responsibility of running a country of 35 million people devastated by decades of war and with an economy on the edge of collapse.

Photos circulated on social media on Thursday showed the Taliban in preparations for a ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul.  

“We were expecting that the government formation would be finalized as soon as possible,” Bilal Karimi, member of the Taliban cultural commission, told Arab News. “Possibly it would be Friday or the upcoming 72 hours.”

While there are many unknowns, fears and hopes regarding the new establishment, most ordinary Afghans long for it to be urgently formed to end a power vacuum.

“In the current situation, we are in an urgent need of a government,” Kabul-based international relations analyst Qais Zaheer told Arab News.

He expressed hope the new administration would be one in which all would find their representation, and that it would obtain international legitimacy.

“On the internal level everyone should see themselves in the government and on the international level, the world should recognize it,” he said. 

The Taliban had declared a blanket amnesty, vowing no reprisals against former enemies and Afghans who supported the previous administration, and announced their aim of forming an inclusive Islamic government. It remains unclear to what extent these promises will be kept.

“This government should be inclusive and professional and should assure the people that they are able to serve the nation,” Afghan Civil Society Forum director Aziz Rafee said, adding: “All sides, including the former government officials would be a part of it.”

The international legitimacy of the new government will be crucial, as most payments to foreign aid-dependent Afghanistan have been suspended since the takeover, sending the economy into freefall.

Ali Reza, a 23-year-old shop owner in Kabul, said he hoped the economy would improve with the formation of the new government, as businesses are reeling from the current situation.

“We hope that the new government will provide us with facilities and opportunities,” he said.

The country is facing the possibility of a humanitarian crisis on top of the political and economic situation. The UN has warned that up to half a million Afghans could flee their homeland by the end of the year.

Thousands of people have already left, while the young and educated fear for their future.

“The major issue is that the Taliban would possibly put the new generation under a serious threat,” journalist Nabi Karimi told Arab News.

Those who feel especially threatened are women, whose freedoms were curtailed during the previous Taliban rule of 1996-2001.

“We hope that Taliban fulfil their commitments,” journalist Qudsia Eshaqzai said, adding that she and her colleagues are hoping to resume their professional lives. During their previous reign, the Taliban treated them like second-category citizens.

“The only thing we can do is to continue our hope,” she said. “I hope that soon the situation will change and they will give us the right to work.”


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