The Taliban government in Afghanistan has appointed Mullah Abdul Kabir as the acting Prime Minister due to the sudden illness of Mullah Hassan Akhund.
According to Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid, Akhund is currently receiving medical care in Kandahar, and he is expected to resume his duties soon, though the specifics of his health condition remain undisclosed.
Kabir, formerly the Deputy Prime Minister, was elevated to this position by the head of the Islamic Emirate. Insiders confirm that he presided over Monday’s cabinet meeting, a change attributed by local media to Akhund’s advancing age.
• Who is Mullah Kabir? Leadership in a Complex Landscape
Mullah Abdul Kabir, originating from the eastern province of Paktia, is a respected figure within the Taliban’s ranks. His involvement with the group extends back to its initial rule. According to Nazar ul Islam of VOA, during this time from 1996 to 2001, Kabir served as the governor of Nangarhar. Islam also highlights Mullah Kabir’s role in the peace negotiations with the United States in Doha.
His appointment as Acting Prime Minister comes amidst heightened international scrutiny over the Taliban’s policies on women’s rights and girls’ education. Concurrently, countries in the region, including Pakistan and China, urge the Taliban to address their security apprehensions.
• A Skeptical Perspective
Despite the leadership shift, not all anticipate positive change. Syed Mudassir Shah, Senior Editor at Pajhwok News, doubts any significant policy changes under Kabir’s watch. Shah suggests that true power resides in Kandahar, historically a significant hub of Afghan politics. He emphasises that, despite international and regional pressures, the Taliban have yet to revise their stances on human rights and girls’ education.
• Internal Power Dynamics
Shah further proposes that Kabir’s appointment may influence the internal power dynamics of the Taliban. As a member of the Haqqani network, Kabir’s new role could potentially alleviate the reported friction between the Kandahar and Haqqani factions. Thus, this leadership shift may have far-reaching implications for the group’s internal balance of power.
Upon the Taliban’s ascension to power in Afghanistan in August 2021, Supreme Leader Hibatullah Akhundzada assigned the role of acting Prime Minister to Mullah Hassan Akhund. Akhund, known for his limited public appearances, delegated media interactions to his deputies, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Mullah Abdul Salam, and Mullah Abdul Kabir.
Kabir, formerly the Deputy Prime Minister, was elevated to this position by the head of the Islamic Emirate. Insiders confirm that he presided over Monday’s cabinet meeting in Akhund’s absence – a change attributed by local media to Akhund’s advancing age. With this shift, Kabir is now stepping into the limelight as the new Acting Prime Minister.