When the Taliban reformed as an insurgency

The Taliban formally declared a caretaker government on Tuesday, appointing acting cabinet ministers who were largely loyalists from the group’s first years of rule in the 1990s.

The list of ministers was the clearest indication yet that the group sees power as something to be shared exclusively among the victors, rather than fulfilling their promise of an inclusive government that factored in the reality of a changed Afghanistan where women and ethnic minorities were represented in decision making.

Though many of the new government’s senior figures have been in similar roles within the Taliban for years, relatively little is known about them. Here are details about some of them, based on New York Times reporting.

Mullah Muhammad Hassan, prime minister
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Mullah Muhammad Hassan in Islamabad, Pakistan, in 1999.
Credit…Saeed Khan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Seen as one of the founding members of the Taliban in the 1990s, Mullah Hassan will hold the prime ministerial role that looks after the day to day of governing.

He was a former deputy prime minister and foreign minister during the Taliban’s government that took control in the 1990s. During the two decades of insurgency after the Taliban fell from power, he remained low-profile and in the shadows, helping to coordinate and run the Taliban’s leadership council in Quetta, Pakistan.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, deputy prime minister
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Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar at the peace talks in Qatar in July.
Credit…Karim Jaafar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Mr. Baradar, who Interpol says was born in Uruzgan Province in 1968, served along with Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s founder, in the fight against the Soviet occupation. He held senior posts in the first Taliban government, starting in 1996, and gained a reputation as one of the most brutal commanders on the battlefield as the Taliban sought to suppress their opponents among the northern resistance. He was serving as deputy minister of defense in 2001, and like other leaders, he fled to Pakistan.

When the Taliban reformed as an insurgency, Mr. Baradar was Mullah Omar’s principal deputy, and he led the movement’s military operations. He oversaw a sharp escalation of the insurgency in 2006 but was also engaged in secret consultations with the emissaries of President Hamid Karzai and international assistance organizations.

He was detained in a joint U.S.-Pakistani raid in 2010, which Pakistani officials later said had been to end his dialogue with the Karzai government. Because of his respect within the Taliban and his previous openness to dialogue, however, the United States pressed Pakistan to release him so he could help lead the talks that began in 2019 and reached a troop withdrawal deal with the Trump administration.

During the talks, he struck up what several officials described as a warm relationship with the U.S. envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad. And in recent days, his movements within Afghanistan — first to Kandahar, the wellspring of the Taliban movement, and then to Kabul, where he began conducting leadership meetings — were seen as confirmation that the Taliban’s new government was near.

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