Taliban May Announce New Government In Afghanistan Today


Kabul: The Taliban were expected to form a government as early as Friday with the new regime under intense international scrutiny over its vow to rule Afghanistan with greater tolerance, especially on women's rights. The announcement of a new administration could be made after Friday afternoon prayers, two Taliban sources told AFP, as the Islamists shift gears from insurgent group to governing power, days after the United States fully withdrew its troops and ended two decades of war. While the West has adopted a wait-and-see approach to the Taliban, there were some signs of engagement with the new leaders gathering pace. The United Nations said it had restarted humanitarian flights to parts of the country, linking the Pakistani capital Islamabad with Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan and Kandahar in the south. A Taliban spokesman tweeted early Friday that China's foreign ministry had promised to keep its embassy in Afghanistan open and to "beef up" relations and humanitarian assistance. Western Union and Moneygram said they were resuming money transfers, which many Afghans rely on from relatives abroad to survive, and Qatar said it was working to reopen the airport in Kabul -- a lifeline for aid. The British and Italian foreign ministers were meanwhile both headed to Afghanistan's neighbours in the coming days to discuss the plight of refugees still hoping to escape the Taliban. The new rulers have pledged to be more accommodating than during their first stint in power from 1996 to 2001, which also came after years of conflict -- first the Soviet invasion of 1979, and then a bloody civil war. That first regime was notorious for its brutal and violent interpretation of Islamic law, and its treatment of women, who were forced behind closed doors, banned from school and work and denied freedom of movement. Now, all eyes are on whether the Taliban can deliver a cabinet capable of managing a war-wracked economy and honour the movement's pledges of a more "inclusive" government.


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