Politics of Afghanistan

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The politics of Afghanistan are dominated by the Taliban Islamic Movement, which has the sole authority to make government appointments. Following their takeover of Afghanistan, the Taliban announced a caretaker government on 7 September 2021 consisting entirely of established Taliban figures from the insurgency period.[1]

Supreme Leader[edit]

Hibatullah Akhundzada is the leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, having authority on all political, military, religious decisions, and government appointments. As supreme leader, much of his work is done alongside the Rahbari Shura (Leadership Council) which oversees the Cabinet and Prime Minister of Afghanistan. The Rahbari Shura in conjunction with Akhundzada appoints individuals to key positions within the cabinet; which includes the positions of Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Minister of the Interior.[2]

Currently, the supreme leader is also responsible for determining the overall aims of the Cabinet of Afghanistan, serving as a point of unity and leadership among the various factions of the Taliban. Because of Hibatullah Akhundzada’s credentials as Mawlawi and knowledge of Fiqh, he is broadly respected among the Taliban and thus seen as a unifying figure.[3]

Leadership Council[edit]

The Rahbari Shura (Leadership Council) is a 26 member council assisting the supreme leader with the governance of Afghanistan. According to now-Deputy Minister of Information and government spokesperson; Zabiullah Mujahid, the Rahbari Shura will oversee the Council of Ministers and determine key governmental decisions.[4] The council was also responsible for appointing a new supreme leader after the death of their predecessor, however it’s not yet known if the council will exercise this power after the Fall of Kabul in 2021.

This setup is reminiscent of how the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was governed from 1996 to 2001 with Mohammad Omar being Head of the Supreme Council. However, the system has also been compared to the Supreme Leader of Iran and its clerical system of rule.[5] The council itself was also the executive body of the Taliban during the War in Afghanistan, determining the overall direction of the group as an insurgency.

According to an Al Jazeera report, the Council of Ministers is powerless in practice, with all political power actually being vested with Akhundzada and the Rahbari Shura,[6] which is based out of Kandahar.[7]


Acting Prime Minister Hasan Akhund

The current caretaker cabinet was presented in an announcement on 7 September 2021.[8] The country as a whole is headed by Hibatullah Akhundzada, who became head of the Taliban in 2016. The Prime Minister, Mohammad Hassan Akhund, was selected as a compromise candidate between moderate and hardline factions of the Taliban. There are two Deputy Prime Ministers, Abdul Ghani Baradar and Abdul Salam Hanafi.[9]

In total, the cabinet (not including Hibatulla Akhundzada) included 33 ministers. All of the ministers named were men. Two ministers were Tajik, and one (Abdul Salam Hanafi) was Uzbek.[10] All other ministers, as well as Hibatullah Akhundzada, are from the Pashtun ethnic group. As the country's largest ethnicity, Pashtuns have long dominated both the Taliban and non-Taliban politics.[11] Some members of the government served as ministers during the previous period of Taliban rule which lasted from 1996 to 2001.[12]

The government was announced by the Taliban's chief spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid,[8] who stated that this cabinet was not complete, with further appointments intended to be made.[10] While the Taliban had previously stated that they wanted to form an inclusive government, all ministers were long-standing members of the Taliban.[9]

On 21 September 2021, Mujahid announced the expansion of the Taliban's interim cabinet by naming deputy ministers.[13] Mujdahid defended the all-male additional members, saying it included members of ethnic minorities, such as the Hazaras, and women might be added later. The appointment included figures from Panjshir and Baghlan.[citation needed]


The full name of the state is the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.[12] As an Islamic state, Taliban policy is to implement Sharia law.[9]

Unapproved protests were banned on 9 September, following large-scale women-led protests.[14] The policies regarding women include a ban on participation in sports.[15]


In September 2021, the government ordered primary schools to reopen for both sexes and announced plans to reopen secondary schools for male students, without committing to do the same for female students.[16] While the Taliban states that female college students will be able to resume higher education provided that they are segregated from male students (and professors, when possible),[17] The Guardian notes that "if the high schools do not reopen for girls, the commitments to allow university education would become meaningless once the current cohort of students graduated."[16] Higher Education Minister Abdul Baqi Haqqani said that female university students will be required to observe proper hijab, but did not specify if this required covering the face.[17]

Kabul University reopened in February 2022, with female students attending in the morning and males in the afternoon. Other than the closure of the music department, few changes to the curriculum were reported.[18] Female students were officially required to wear an abaya and a hijab to attend, although some wore a shawl instead. Attendance was reportedly low on the first day.[19]

In March 2022, the Taliban abruptly reversed plans to allow girls to resume secondary school education (defined as grade seven and up in Afghanistan). With the exception of the current cohort of university students, this decision leaves graduating from sixth grade as the highest level of educational attainment possible for Afghan women. Secondary schools for boys reopened on schedule. A statement from the ministry of education cited the lack of an acceptable school uniform for female high school students.[20]

Recognition and relations[edit]

Afghanistan's envoy to the United Nations has requested that the international community not recognise the new government.[21] The Taliban seeks such recognition, and it has not yet received this, other governments are engaging with it to an extent.[22]



Since coming to power, there have been reports of factionalism and infighting among various camps of the Taliban concerning areas such as spoils of war, contributions to the Taliban insurgency, and political appointments in the new government. Factions involved include both political moderates, religious fundamentalists, jihadists, and the Haqqani network.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hardliners get key posts in new Taliban government". BBC. 7 September 2021. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  2. ^ "What Role Will the Taliban's 'Supreme Leader' Play in the New Government?". thediplomat.com. Retrieved 2021-09-24.
  3. ^ "Who Is Haibatullah Akhundzada, The Taliban's 'Supreme Leader' Of Afghanistan?". RFE/RL. Retrieved 2021-09-26.
  4. ^ "What Role Will the Taliban's 'Supreme Leader' Play in the New Government?". thediplomat.com. Retrieved 2021-09-26.
  5. ^ "What Role Will the Taliban's 'Supreme Leader' Play in the New Government?". thediplomat.com. Retrieved 2021-09-24.
  6. ^ Latifi, Ali M. "Taliban divisions deepen as hardliners seek spoils of war". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2021-09-24.
  7. ^ a b "Taliban Cabinet has no 'actual' power and that's why they are fighting: Report". Hindustan Times. 2021-09-23. Retrieved 2021-09-24.
  8. ^ a b "Taliban announces new government in Afghanistan". Aljazeera. 7 September 2021. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  9. ^ a b c "Hardliners get key posts in new Taliban government". BBC News. 8 September 2021. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  10. ^ a b "Taliban forms 33-member cabinet in Afghanistan: Full list". HindustanTimes. 8 September 2021. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  11. ^ "From Taliban-led military rule to West-backed democracy, Pashtuns have always dominated Afghanistan's politics". Firstpost. 8 September 2021. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  12. ^ a b "Afghanistan: Who's who in the Taliban leadership". BBC. 8 September 2021. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  13. ^ "Taliban appoints deputy ministers in all-male government". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2021-09-21.
  14. ^ "The Latest: Taliban decrees end to unapproved demonstrations". ABC News. 9 September 2021. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  15. ^ "Report: Taliban has banned women's sports in Afghanistan". AP. 9 September 2021. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  16. ^ a b Graham-Harrison, Emma (17 September 2021). "Taliban ban girls from secondary education in Afghanistan". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
  17. ^ a b "Taliban say women can study at university but classes must be segregated". Reuters. 2021-09-13. Retrieved 2021-09-21.
  18. ^ Kullab, Samya (2022-02-26). "Afghan students return to Kabul U, but with restrictions". Associated Press. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
  19. ^ Wali, Qubad (2022-02-26). "Afghan universities reopen, but few women return". Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 2022-02-27.
  20. ^ George, Susannah (2022-03-23). "Taliban reopens Afghan schools—except for girls after sixth grade". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
  21. ^ "'Taliban Govt Anything But Inclusive': Afghan Envoy Asks UN To Reject Reinstatement Of Islamic Emirate". ABP. 8 September 2021. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  22. ^ Trofimov, Yaroslav (2021-09-13). "As Taliban Seek International Acceptance, Countries Seek to Engage—but Stop Short of Recognition". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2021-09-20.

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