KABUL – The Taliban doubled down on their hard-line trajectory Monday in a third round of Afghanistan government appointments that encompassed a host of men named to deputy positions, a spokesman said.
None of the 38 new appointments announced by chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid included women. They were comprised of members drawn entirely from the Taliban with little representation of minority groups.
Also included were postings to humanitarian organizations.
The appointments are the latest indication the Taliban government has no intention of heeding conditions from the international community that formal recognition of their rule would depend on their treatment of women and minority groups.
Still, the Taliban seek international support as they grapple with the daunting challenges of an economy on the brink of collapse, drought and a growing security threat from the Islamic State group.
Among the new appointments was a political deputy for the prime minister, deputy ministers, and deputy head of the Afghan Red Crescent Society. Most of the positions consisted of army and defense ministry commanders and deputies across Afghanistan's provinces including Kabul, Helmand, Herat and Kandahar.
Since the militant group took control of Afghanistan in a blitz campaign in mid-August, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have paused disbursements to Kabul. The U.S. froze billons of dollars in assets held in U.S. accounts by the Afghan Central Bank.
Foreign aid previously accounted for nearly 75% of Afghanistan’s public expenditure, according to a World Bank report.
Without those funds, the Taliban are unable to pay public sector salaries, precipitating a spiraling economic crisis.
The Taliban have described their appointments as part of an interim government but have not elaborated on whether there will be elections. In late September, Mujahid had held out the possibility of adding women to the Cabinet at a later time, but provided no more details.