Taliban appoint deputy ministers in all-male government

Taliban in Afghanistan

The Taliban have failed to name any women in a list of deputy ministers.

The announcement came despite an international outcry when they presented their all-male cabinet ministers earlier this month.

The list was presented by government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid at a news conference in the capital, Kabul.

The list of deputy ministers signals that the Taliban have not been swayed by the international criticism and that they are doubling down on their current hardline path despite initial promises of inclusivity and upholding women’s rights.

The international community has warned that it will judge the Taliban by their actions, and that recognition of a Taliban-led government would be linked to the treatment of women and minorities.

In their previous rule of Afghanistan in the late 1990s, the Taliban had barred girls and women from schools, work and public life.

The Taliban have framed their current cabinet as an interim government, suggesting that change was still possible, but they have not said if there would ever be elections.

In response to questions, Mr Mujahid defended the expanded cabinet line-up, saying it included members of ethnic minorities, such as Hazaras, and that women might be added later.

He bristled at international conditions for recognition, saying there was no reason for withholding it.

“It is the responsibility of the United Nations to recognise our government (and) for other countries, including European, Asian and Islamic countries, to have diplomatic relations with us,” he said.

The spokesman was also asked about the recent restrictions imposed on girls and women, including a decision not to allow girls in grades six to 12 to return to classrooms for the time being.

He suggested this was a temporary decision, and that “soon it will be announced when they can go to school”. He said plans were being made to allow for their return.

Boys in grades six to 12 resumed their studies over the weekend.

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