The Taliban on Tuesday announced an all-male caretaker government including an interior minister wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The new leadership is drawn entirely from Taliban ranks, despite promises of an inclusive cabinet, and many of its senior figures are on UN sanctions lists, which is likely to complicate the group’s search for international recognition.
As the world preps to deal with the Taliban government, here's a how at how the world media reacted to the news.
In India, newspapers such as The Times of India and the Hindustan Times splashed the new Afghan government formation on its front pages.
The Indian Express focussed on the Pakistani hand in the Taliban government formation. In its report 'Pakistan hand: Haqqanis in, so is Talib who brought the Buddhas down', the paper wrote, "Rawalpindi’s imprint was visible as leaders of the Haqqani Network terror outfit and the Kandahar-based Taliban group dominated the new cabinet while the Doha-based Taliban group, which had been negotiating with the international community and had established contacts with New Delhi, appeared to have been sidelined".
All the news outlets in India, including electronic media such as NDTV and News18, were also quick to point out the appointment of Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the Haqqani Network, as the acting interior minister.
In neighbouring Pakistan, the news of the Taliban government formation was big news.
The Dawn on its front page reported 'Taliban bring old guard into cabinet, dash hopes for inclusive govt'. The report states that 'all the top positions were handed to key leaders from the movement and the Haqqani network — the most violent branch of the Taliban known for devastating attacks'.
As for the West, the United States watched closely as the Taliban announced its interim government.
Shortly after the Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid unveiled the names of the government in Afghanistan, Bill Roggio, managing editor of the US-based Long War Journal, tweeted, “The new Taliban, same as the old Taliban.”
1) The Taliban announced its "interim" government. Meet the new Taliban, same as the old Taliban. Many of the "new leaders" were leaders pre-9/11, and are on UN sanctions list. No surpriseshere: Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada is the emir. More follows.https://t.co/J58zUdOs4J
— Bill Roggio (@billroggio) September 7, 2021
He also tweeted, “Now that the Taliban announced its government and it is clear the prevailing "wisdom" that it would be inclusive is dead, when will other canards, like it is "pragmatic", "can't govern", "wants legitimacy and will moderate" or "it isn't in its interests to work with Al Qaeda" die?"
Michael Kugelman, a South Asia expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, said, "It’s not at all-inclusive, and that’s no surprise whatsoever. The Taliban had never indicated that any of its cabinet ministers would include anyone other than themselves."
The US State Department in a statement expressed concern that the Cabinet included only Taliban, no women and personalities with a troubling track record, but said the new administration would be judged by its actions. The carefully worded statement noted the Cabinet was interim but said the Taliban would be held to their promise to give safe passage to both foreign nationals and Afghans, with proper travel documents, and ensure Afghan soil would not be used as to harm another.
“The world is watching closely,” the statement said.
The New York Times in its article, 'Taliban Appoint Stalwarts to Top Government Posts', said that 'most of the acting appointments on Tuesday were of senior figures who served in similar roles decades ago — a sign that the group's conservative and theocratic core remain largely unchanged'.
It also spoke to the point that as many of the new ministers were sanctioned by the US, aid to Afghanistan would become a difficult proposition.
In The Guardian, the newspaper put a spotlight on the fact that the acting government by the Taliban was, in fact, designed to prevent internal fractures within the movement.
As Haroun Rahimi, a law professor at the American University of Afghanistan, was quoted by the UK newspaper, as saying, "It won’t help with domestic legitimacy, it won’t help with international recognition, it will not help ease the resistance, and they will not help government run more smoothly. So I have to conclude that the only reason they chose this kind of makeup was to make sure there will be no internal fractures."
The Sun was quite dramatic in its reporting of the new Taliban government. Titled 'Cabinet of Chaos', the UK tabloid reported that the new government was "packed with terrorists linked to 9/11, Brit killers and torturers".
Speaking of Abdul Ghani Baradar as Afghanistan's new deputy PM, The Sun wrote, "He is a blood-soaked butcher who masterminded roadside bombs that killed hundreds of British soldiers."
The Chinese media ignored the terrorist activities of the new acting ministers in the Taliban regime. In Xinhua, the official state-run press agency spoke of how the people of Afghanistan had welcomed the new government. It also ignored the fact that no women had made their way into the Afghanistan government.
It appeared that the Chinese media chose to stay mum on these issues to curry favour with the Taliban and forge closer ties with them, which would help the Asian giant.
The Global Times in its report 'China to keep an eye on Taliban's terrorism promises after the announcement of Afghan interim government quoted Wang Jin, an associate professor at the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies of Northwest University, who believed the appointments of the interim government display certain degree of inclusiveness.
"The nominations for these positions also showed that the Afghan Taliban are taking a realist political view hoping to consolidate the domestic political situation first and later start to gradually promote international relations," Wang said, noting that regardless of the reasons for the decisions of the new interim government, the Afghan Taliban still have a long way to go in either solving domestic problems or dealing with international ties.
As of now, all the world can do is hope that the new Taliban regime can bring peace to the country and keep to its other promises.
But, who knows what the future holds.
Inputs from agencies