'Nobody except the Taliban': Journalists react to women's absence from interim Taliban govt

By inclusive govt, Taliban appear to have meant a govt that included only Taliban officials and no women, says one journalist.
Published September 7, 2021

Less than a month after sweeping into power, the Taliban on Tuesday announced the formation of its interim government, to be led by Mohammad Hasan Akhund.

In the group's first press conference after its takeover of Kabul, spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid had said the group would honour women and assured that it was ready to provide them with the opportunity to be "present in different government (structures) according to Islamic law and in accordance with our cultural values".

The group had also said it wanted an inclusive government in the country.

However, as the spokesperson started listing the members of the government in his press conference today, one thing stood out. There was not even one woman among the 33 members of the acting government.

Shortly after the Taliban spokesperson's press conference, journalists, both Pakistani and international, started pointing out the absence of women from the government, with most not expressing any surprise.

Anchorperson Adil Shahzeb remarked that the ideology of Taliban's foot soldiers had "prevailed" in the first round.

"As expected it's a big NO to the demand of an 'inclusive' govt and women representation for now. Not surprising at all," he said.

BBC Correspondent Barbara Platt Usher pointed out not only the absence of women but also the women's affairs ministry.

The same was also pointed out by deputy director for operations of the Afghanistan-based Tolo News, Abdul Farid Ahmad.

"There is no female included in the Taliban Cabinet and they have eliminated women's ministry from the Afghanistan cabinet. Also, there is no ethnic balance in the Taliban cabinet," he tweeted.

By an inclusive government, the Taliban "appear to have meant a govt representing different tribes, but which included only Taliban officials (and no women)," said Wall Street Journal Correspondent Sune Engel Rasmussen.

Editor Ismail Khan summarised it succinctly: "Didn’t find anybody else except the Taliban in the 'inclusive' government in Afghanistan."

Television anchor Gharida Farooqi commented that the lack of representation of women and minorities in the Taliban government said "a lot about 'badlay huay' (changed) Taliban".

"All men. All mullahs. All middle-aged," said BBC's Sana Safi.

The opinion was shared by Editor Wajahat Khan who said: "Mawlavis, Mullas & Qaris — but no women."

Header photo: Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid speaks during a press conference in Kabul on Tuesday. — AFP