Issue Brief on “Interim Afghan Government in Power – Two Years On”


August 15, 2023, marked two years since the Taliban dispensation reassumed power in Afghanistan. Initially, there was lack of clarity regarding the Taliban’s return to power and what it would mean for the future of Afghanistan, particularly the group’s approach towards domestic issues such as governance, political freedom, human/women’s rights, counter-terrorism measures, as well as overall commitment to regional peace and stability. However, the past two years have provided significant insights into the Taliban’s approach, which can be characterized as a blend of authoritarian policies and pragmatism. The Taliban have undergone significant changes since the 1990s when they were widely perceived as outliers in the realm of modern politics. Today, despite lacking formal/international recognition, the group has seemingly solidified its position as the de facto political authority in Afghanistan, even if not formally recognized as the de jure governing body.

Domestically, the Interim Afghan Government’s performance has been open to much debate and criticism, but the past 24 months have clearly indicated that the Taliban are a work in progress.

The current interim setup put in place on September 7, 2021, exhibits similarities to the governance system employed by the Taliban during their previous rule in the 1990s, with a supreme leader and a prime minister, with the addition of deputy prime minister posts whose policies are highly influenced by their limited interpretation of Sharia. While the group has yet to establish a recognized and formal structure of governance, they have continued to operate under the ministries established by the previous government, claiming to have retained more than 500,000 members of the previous administration. Moreover, they have not made significant changes in terms of abolishing any ministry, with the exception of dissolving the electoral commission and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, which has been replaced by the Ministry of Vice and Virtue – serving as a blow to the rights of women.

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