During the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the Taliban raised their white flag over the Afghan presidential palace to signal the beginning of the new government’s regime. Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, the prime minister of the Taliban interim government, hoisted the banner at a low-key ceremony on Saturday, according to Ahmadullah Muttaqi, head of the group’s cultural commission.
The Taliban announced an interim government earlier this week and the all-male, all-Taliban cabinet disappointed the international community, which had hoped the hardline Islamist group would keep its earlier promise of an inclusive cabinet. The Taliban formed the interim ‘Islamic Emirate’ and appointed hardliners as its new government, which supervised the 20-year war against the US-led military coalition, and which primarily consisted of members of the group’s old guard, with no women.
As interim prime minister, Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund has been appointed along with two deputy prime ministers, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Molavi Abdul Salam Hanafi. Having been appointed as Interior Minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani is responsible for police and security in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda is known to have close ties to the Haqqani network headed by Haqqani. His name is on the most-wanted list of the FBI, and he has been designated a global terrorist.
The US ended its ‘forever war’ with the Taliban two weeks before the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and two weeks after the group returned to the Afghan capital on August 15 after sweeping through the countryside and major cities at lightning speed. After two months, the coalition forces drove them out of Kabul, and by December 7, 2001, they were defeated and driven from their last holdout in southern Kandahar. Having returned to power, the Taliban have issued harsh diktats, particularly against Afghan women, such as banning women’s sports. Women demanding equal rights have also been violently stopped from protesting in Kabul and several other cities.
A march for the Taliban was staged by hundreds of women in black veils on Saturday. Several thousand women waved placards saying ‘the women who left don’t represent us,’ referring to the thousands who fled in fear of a Taliban crackdown on women’s rights. A second banner read, ‘We don’t want co-education’. Afghanistan’s director of higher education, Maulvi Mohammad Daoud Haqqani, said 9/11 was the day when the world began propaganda against us, calling us terrorists and blaming us for the attacks in the United States.