'Taliban learns governing is harder than taking control of country'

·3-min read
Armed Taliban on the streets of Kabul. (Photo Credit - Reuters)
Armed Taliban on the streets of Kabul. (Photo Credit - Reuters)

Kabul [Afghanistan], September 2 (ANI): The Taliban has taken control of war-torn Afghanistan, but there is still an important gap between naming a government and fully taking up its functions, say analysts.

Matthieu Aikins, writing in The New York Times said that two weeks since Kabul fell, the Taliban officials are still attempting to take up the functions of a new government on the eve of its announcement.

The Taliban are expected to formally announce their new government as early as Thursday, including naming the insurgency's top religious figure, Sheikh Haibatullah Akhundzada, as the supreme leader of Afghanistan.

But there is still an important gap between naming a government and fully taking up its functions, says Aikins. In Kabul, as in much of the country, the most important government departments, apart from street-level security, are not functioning.

The Taliban have urged officials with the former government to stay in their roles. But in the face of a looming economic crisis, including a worsening cash shortage that has put strains on the availability of fuel, food and other staples, the past two weeks have been a scramble by the Taliban to establish themselves, both in the public eye and in practice, as the country's new governors.

Much of the Afghan public remains deeply distrustful, given the harshness of the Taliban's last government, said Aikins.

Taliban has been preparing to take power for more than a decade, steadily expanding its shadow government in waiting. Over the years, they have formed national commissions for sectors like health care and education, appointing officials down to the district level across much of the country.

Mawlawi Bakhtar Sharafat, who served as an official during the previous Taliban regime, has been head of the Taliban's public works commission since its inception three years ago, in charge of things including the repair and upkeep of roads and bridges.

On August 16, the day after Kabul's fall, Sharafat was in Kandahar, on his way to inspect newly conquered infrastructure in western Afghanistan. But that night, he received an urgent message from Mawlawi Muhammad Yaqoub, a senior Taliban leader who currently functions as the executive authority.

"I was told to please go and control your ministry in Kabul," Sharafat recounted in an interview with The New York Times. With him were some staffers from the previous administration.

When he arrived in Kabul at the public works office, whose previous minister had fled, he met with the remaining staff and reassured them with the movement's assurance of a general amnesty, part of a campaign to induce cooperation from civil servants, security officials, and the general public, reported The New York Times.

While much of Kabul's elite fled the country ahead of the Taliban, a few senior officials chose to remain at their posts. Wahid Majrooh, the Afghan minister of public health, said he turned down an offer to escape.

Majrooh, worried about an outbreak of violence or a mass casualty attack, wanted to ensure that his hospital network stayed open. He suggested that he and the Taliban official go and rally the staff at two hospitals in a Hazara Shiite neighborhood in western Kabul, where residents would be most fearful of the Taliban's arrival, Aikins reported.

For the past two weeks, Majrooh has shared his office with Mawlawi Abdullah Khan, head of the Taliban's health commission. "Most ministries are locked, their services are disrupted," he said.

The public health ministry now faces the same imminent financial crisis as the rest of the government, and much of Afghanistan's bank funds and other financing remain frozen by the US and Western governments.

The health care sector is particularly dependent on donor support; according to Majrooh, most organizations he works with have already suspended operations and halted contracts, reported The New York Times. (ANI)

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