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'Pakistani Imprint': Ex-Envoys Say New Taliban Cabinet in Afghanistan Isn't 'Good News' For India

© REUTERS / WANA NEWS AGENCYTaliban soldier in combat gear stands amid the protesters during the anti-Pakistan protest in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 7, 2021.
Taliban soldier in combat gear stands amid the protesters during the anti-Pakistan protest in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 7, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.09.2021
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The United Nations has described the Haqqani Network as the most "combat-ready" division of the Taliban*. Its leader Sirajuddin Haqqani, the deputy head of the Taliban, was originally opposed to peace negotiations with the US. He had warned of retaliation if the US didn't adhere to the troop withdrawal deadline, which the latter eventually did.
The recently unveiled 33-member interim cabinet of the Taliban in Afghanistan "definitely has a Pakistani imprint" to it and doesn't bode well for New Delhi's security interests in the region, former Indian envoy Anil Trigunayat, who is currently a strategic affairs expert, has told Sputnik.

"The most worrying aspect for India is that members of the Haqqani Network have been given key positions in the interim government", says Trigunayat, who formerly served as New Delhi's ambassador to Jordan, Libya, and Malta.

The new cabinet was unveiled by Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid at a press conference in Kabul on Tuesday.
A mobile hawker carries Taliban flags as commuters make their way along a road in Kabul on September 5, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.09.2021
Afghanistan
What Do We Know About New Taliban-Appointed Key Acting Gov't Members in Afghanistan?
The all-male cabinet is made up of at least six senior figures sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for their alleged involvement in terror activities — Prime Minister-designate Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund, Deputy Prime Ministers Maulavi Abdul Salam Hanafi and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, and Refugee Minister Khalil ur Rehman Haqqani.
In fact, Sirajuddin Haqqani, the current leader of the US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO) Haqqani Network, is on the wanted list of America's Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and has a bounty of $10 million on his head.
Besides Sirajuddin and Khalil, two other members of the Haqqani Network have also been appointed as ministers.
"With Sirajuddin Haqqani in charge of the Interior Ministry, the fear of the Haqqanis coordinating with other terrorist outfits such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad becomes very real. He will hold authority over different provincial governors too and will be in a way overseeing what takes place in Afghanistan", states Trigunayat.
The Haqqani Network, founded by Siraj's father Jalaluddin Haqqani in the late 1970s, is headquartered along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, as per the United Nations.
Jalaluddin is often described as the "father of the Taliban", though the group operates as an autonomous entity reporting to the Taliban's Supreme Council, as per a UN Security Council published in June of this year.
Preet Malik, another former Indian diplomat, has told Sputnik that the visit by the Pakistani spy agency (ISI) chief in the lead-up to the new cabinet announcement isn't a mere "coincidence".

"To me, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has played a key role in deciding the new cabinet, with several key positions going to the Haqqani Network members", says Malik.

On 4 September, ISI head, Lieutenant-General Faiz Hameed, paid his maiden visit to Kabul after the takeover of the Afghan capital by the Taliban on 15 August, TOLO News reported.
His visit coincided with reported friction between the Taliban's Baradar, who led the Doha deal negotiations with the US, and the Haqqani Network over appointments in the new cabinet.
As per a report in the Indian daily The Times of India, Baradar was rushed to a hospital after a confrontation with the Haqqani faction turned violent.
 In this 16 August 2021 file photo, hundreds of people gather near a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane along the perimeter at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover. - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.09.2021
World
Pakistan's Spy Chief Visits Kabul Amid Claims of Factionalism in Taliban Over Formation of New Gov't
The New York Times reported on 1 September that Baradar, identified as a "moderate", was tipped to be the next prime minister.

"The new cabinet shows that hardliners still hold sway over the Taliban. Now, we really need to see if the Taliban has really changed and if it upholds its promise of not letting Afghan soil be used for terrorism against any foreign nation", states the ex-Indian ambassador.

As per the terms of the Doha deal in February 2020, the Taliban has committed to not allowing any terrorist organisation to use Afghan soil against US and its allies.
India Holds Talks With Russia
The observations come against the backdrop of Indian National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval holding delegation-level talks with Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Indian government sources told Sputnik that the activities of terrorist groups, including Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba, were discussed in the meeting, also attended by officials from the Indian Foreign and Defence ministries.

"Both countries share similar concerns on terrorism, especially to ensure that the Taliban adhere to their promises and assurances", the sources added.

*The Taliban is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and many other nations.
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