Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Political Landscape

The Taleban’s Caretaker Cabinet and other Senior Appointments

Martine van Bijlert 6 min

After three rounds of senior appointments — on 7 September, 21 September and 4 October – most key posts appear to have been filled, at least in Kabul. These appointments have solved the immediate question of who will head the state institutions that will help restart the government. However, given the uncertainties about how the state will fund itself (see AAN’s reporting here and here) and the new appointees’ apparent lack of experience in governing and their specific portfolios, it will likely be an uphill struggle (as it was in 2001). The cabinet itself is a rather sprawling affair with over 30 ministries, a legacy from the previous government. It has never been an effective decision-making body, with most political and policy decisions (the ones that were not shaped by donor priorities) made by a very small circle of powerbrokers concentrated in and around the Palace, particularly in the last years of the Republic. This makes one wonder where the real decisions are being made now, by whom and how. The appointments were ostensibly made by order of the Amir al-Mu’minin, Shaykh al-Hadith Hibatullah Akhundzadeh. Whether alive or not, he does not seem to have much of a concrete role beyond providing the illusion of a centre of gravity and a leader who transcends worldly affairs.

Deputy Prime Ministers Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Mawlawi Abdul Salam Hanafi meet with British Special Representative for Afghanistan Simon Gass. Newly appointed Taleban officials have been meeting representatives from western and regional governments to discuss the international community’s future engagement with Afghanistan. Photo: Administrative Office of the President Facebook page (@AOP.Afg), 5 October 2021

The cabinet has, in the meantime, started meeting as reported on 4 October by the various Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) spokespersons. The lack of clarity concerning a centralised leadership is also reflected in the fragmentation of communication channels. With the appointment of Zabihullah Mujahed as deputy minister of information and culture, the government has lost what seemed to be shaping up as a principal spokesperson and weekly press conferences. As a result, announcements and statements are released through a variety of channels, including personal social media accounts of several officials and various state media channels. The released statement said that during the cabinet meeting:

•          The activities and working processes of various ministries were discussed and evaluated and necessary instructions were given to the ministers by the leadership.

•          The Ministry of Interior (MoI) was instructed to resume issuing passports and identity cards.

•          The Kabul Municipality was instructed to consider ways to prevent property usurpation and take legal action against usurpers.

•          It [the council/the leadership?] directed the formation of a joint commission of the three security organs to improve security in the capital and provinces.

These topics are indeed on the minds of many Afghans – the possibility of travel, seizure of houses in the capital (as well as large swaths of land in Gizab), the rise of security incidents including bomb attacks in Kabul and the east, reports of assassinations, beatings and localised pockets of lawlessness, the dire economic situation, the many rumours of external interference and the steady stream of reports – some corroborated, others not – of internal violence and revenge taking.

The situation in Afghanistan feels fragile. The Taleban as a movement is involved in a complicated transition from a relatively lean and loosely organised insurgent movement, with a very rudimentary governance structure, to a complete administration that is supposed to make, clarify and communicate policies, regain control over its own ranks, determine where and by whom decisions are made, establish diplomatic relations and stave off economic disaster. All in the span of weeks, while wrapped in a tight-lipped internal power struggle and disagreements over what it means to be an Islamic Emirate. They feel the heat and psychological impact of scattered Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) attacks and are closely watched and criticised by an impatient outside world.

These internal and external pressures have meant that the Taleban have barely ventured outside their own ranks and are showing a great reluctance to delegate power to people they don’t know well and who might be working against them. This is reflected in the list below, almost entirely from Taleban ranks, overwhelmingly Pashtun, largely clerical and all male.

With the idea of an ‘inclusive government’ – one that includes representatives from other factions, independents and people linked to the previous government – largely off the table, at least in the short-term, the Taleban will need to make other moves to persuade Afghans and internationals that they intend to be a government for all. This includes, most significantly, showing seriousness about controlling and holding the shadowy parts of the movement to account (those who are not responding to instructions and/or are involved in gross violence and abuses of power). For now, it is not clear who would take the lead or whether the movement as a whole can reach a consensus on this issue.

Caretaker cabinet and other senior officials and commanders (as of 05/10/2021)

  • First round of 33 appointments on 7 September 2021
  • Second round of 17 appointments on 21 September 2021 (marked with *)
  • Third round of 38 appointments on 4 October (marked with **)

Appointed “based on the order of His Highness Amir al-Mu’minin Shaykh al-Hadith Hibatullah Akhundzadeh” in the following three rounds:

The caretaker cabinet

Prime Minister: Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund

  • First deputy: Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar 
  • Second deputy: Mawlawi Abdul Salam Hanafi
  • Deputy for Political Affairs: Mawlawi Abdul Kabir **

Minister of Defence: Mullah Muhammad Yaqub

  • Deputy Defence Minister: Mullah Muhammad Fazl Akhund (aka Fazl Mazlum)
  • Deputy Defence Minister: Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir *
  • Director of Intelligence Affairs of the MoD: Mullah Mohammad Ali Akhund **
  • Director of Personnel and Education of the MoD: Mawlawi Nasrullah Mati **
  • Director of Logistics at the MoD: Timur Shah Akhund **
  • Director of Construction, Property and Infrastructure of the MoD: Mullah Amir Khan Haqqani **

Minister of Interior: Mullah Serajuddin Haqqani

  • Deputy Minister of Interior: Mawlawi Nur Jalal
  • Deputy Minister of Interior (Counternarcotic): Mullah Abdul Haq
  • Deputy Ministry of Interior (Security): Sadar Mullah Mohammad Ibrahim *

Minister of Foreign Affairs: Amir Khan Muttaqi

  • Deputy Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanekzai 

Minister of Finance: Mullah Hedayatullah Badri (aka Gul Agha Ishakqzai)

Head of Intelligence: Mawlawi Abdul Haq Wasiq

  • First Deputy Intelligence: Mullah Taj Mir Jawad
  • Administrative Deputy of Intelligence: Mullah Rahmatullah Najib

[Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock: appears to be vacant]

  • Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock: Mawlawi Shamsuddin Pahlawan **

Minister of Borders and Tribal Affairs: Mullah Nurullah Nuri

  • Deputy Minister of Border Affairs: Haji Gul Mohammad *
  • Second Deputy Minister of Border Affairs: Gul Zarin Kochi *

Minister of Civil Aviation and Transportation: Mullah Hamidullah Akhundzada

Minister of Commerce: Haji Nooruddin Azizi *

  • First Deputy Minister of Commerce: Haji Mohammad Bashir *
  • Second Deputy Minister of Commerce: Haji Mohammad Azim Sultanzada *

Minister of Economy: Qari Din Muhammad Hanif 

Minister of Education: Sheikh Mawlawi Nurullah

  • Deputy Minister of Education: Mawlawi Sakhaullah **

Minister for Hajj and Religious Affairs: Mawlawi Nur Muhammad Saqib 

Minister of Higher Education: Mawlawi Abdul Baqi Haqqani

  • Deputy Minister of Higher Education: Dr Lutfullah Khairkhwa *

Minister for Information and Culture: Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa

  • Deputy Minister of Information and Culture: Zabihullah Mujahed

Minister of Invitation and Guidance, Prevention of Vice & Promotion of Virtue: Sheikh Muhammad Khaled

Minister of Justice: Mawlawi Abdul Hakim Shari

Minister of Martyrs and Disabled Affairs: Mullah Abdul Majeed Akhund **

  • Deputy Minister of Martyrs and Disabled: Mullah Abdul Razaq Akhund **

Minister of Mines and Petroleum: Mullah Muhammad Essa Akhund

Minister of Public Health: Qalandar Ibad *

  • Deputy Minister of Public Health: Abdul Bari Omar*
  • Deputy Minister of Public Health: Mohammad Hassan Ghyasi**

Minister of Public Works: Mullah Abdul Manan Omari

Minister of Refugee Affairs: Khalil ul-Rahman Haqqani

  • Deputy Minister of Refugee Affairs: Arsala Khoroti *

Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development: Mullah Muhammad Yunus Akhundzada 

Minister of Telecommunication: Mawlawi Najibullah Haqqani

Minister of Water and Power: Mullah Abdul Latif Mansur

  • Deputy Minister of Water and Power: Engineer Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Omar *

Other cabinet-level appointments

[Head of Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority: appears to be vacant]

  • Deputy of Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority: Haji Ghulam Ghaws *

Chief of Staff: Mawlawi Ahmad Jan Ahmadi

Head of Da Afghanistan Bank: Haji Muhammad Idris

Army appointments

Chief of the Army: Qari Fasihuddin

Commander of the Helmand Corps: Mullah Sharafuddin Taqi **

  • Deputy of the Helmand Corps: Mullah Mohibullah Nusrat **
  • Chief of Staff of Helmand Corps: Mullah Mohammad Khan Dawat **

Commander of the Herat Corps: Mawlawi Mohammad Zarif Muzaffar **

  • Deputy of the Herat Corps: Mullah Abdul Shakur Baryalai
  • Chief of Staff of the Herat Corps: Mawlawi Abdul Rahman Haqqani

Commander of the Kabul Corps: Mawlawi Hamdullah **

  • Deputy of the Kabul Corps: Mawlawi Nusrat **
  • Chief of Staff of the Kabul Corps: Qari Baryal **

Commander of the Kandahar Corps: Mullah Mehrullah Hammad **

  • Deputy of the Kandahar Corps: Mullah Wali Jan Hamza **
  • Chief of Staff of the Kandahar Corps: Mawlawi Hizbullah Afghan **

Commander of the Kunduz Corps: Mullah Rahmatullah Mohammad **

  • Deputy of the Kunduz Corps: Qari Mohammad Ismail Turkman **
  • Chief of Staff of the Kunduz Corps: Qari Mohammad Shafiq **

Commander of the Mazar Corps: Mawlawi Attaullah Omari **

  • Deputy of the Mazar corps: Mawlawi Amanuddin **
  • Chief of Staff of the Mazar Corps: Mullah Abdul Razaq Faizullah **

Commander of the Paktia Corps: Qari Mohammad Ayub **

  • Deputy of the Paktia Corps: Mullah Rohul Amin **
  • Chief of Staff of the Paktia Corps: Mullah Ahmadullah Mubarak **

Other key government positions

Head of Afghanistan’s Nuclear Energy Agency: Engineer Najibullah *

Head of the Central Statistics Office: Dr Mohammad Faqir *

[Mayor of Kabul: Daud Sultanzoi (retention, currently working together with Hamdullah Nomani]

  • Deputy Mayor of Kabul: Mawlawi Abdul Rashid **

Head of the National Olympic Committee: Engineer Nazar Mohammad Motmaen *

Head of the Red Crescent Society: Mawlawi Matiul Haq **

  • Deputy head of the Red Crescent Society: Mullah Nooruddin Turabi **

Head of the southwestern zone: Mawlawi Sardar Mohammad **

Head of the southeastern zone ‘Tamiz’ [possibly referring to the tertiary court]: Sheikh Mohammad Hanif **

NB It is unclear (to us) what the last two positions refer to.


Government new cabinet Taleban


Martine van Bijlert

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