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KABUL, Sept 7, (AP): The Taliban on Tuesday announced a caretaker Cabinet that paid homage to the old guard of the group, giving top posts to Taliban personalities who dominated the 20- year battle against the U.S.-led coalition and its Afghan government allies. Interim Prime Minister Mullah Hasan Akhund headed the Taliban government in Kabul during the last years of its rule. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who had led talks with the United States and signed the deal that led to America’s final withdrawal from Afghanistan, will be one of two deputies to Akhund.
There was no evidence of non-Taliban in the lineup, a big demand of the international community. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, when announcing the Cabinet, said the appointments were for an interim government. He did not elaborate on how long they would serve and what would be the catalyst for a change. So far, the Taliban have shown no indications that they will hold elections. The announcement of Cabinet appointments by Mujahid came hours after Taliban fired into the air to disperse protesters and arrested several journalists, the second time in less than a week the group used heavy-handed tactics to break up a demonstration in the Afghan capital of Kabul. The demonstrators had gathered outside the Pakistan Embassy to accuse Islamabad of aiding the Taliban’s assault on northern Panjshir province.
The Taliban said Monday they seized the province – the last not in their control – after their blitz through Afghanistan last month. Afghanistan’s previous government routinely accused Pakistan of aiding the Taliban, a charge Islamabad has denied. Former vice president Amrullah Saleh, one of the leaders of the anti-Taliban forces, has long been an outspoken critic of neighboring Pakistan. Dozens of women were among the protesters Tuesday. Some of them carried signs bemoaning the killing of their sons by Taliban fighters they say were aided by Pakistan. One sign read: “I am a mother when you kill my son you kill a part of me.” On Saturday, Taliban special forces troops in camouflage fired their weapons into the air to end a protest march in the capital by Afghan women demanding equal rights from the new rulers.