Taliban spokesman says there 'may not' be any women in top government posts

Sher Abbas Stanekzai, deputy head of the Taliban political office in Qatar. (BBC)
Sher Abbas Stanekzai, deputy head of the Taliban political office in Qatar. (BBC)

A spokesman for the Taliban has admitted there may not be any women in high positions when it forms a new government in Afghanistan.

The militant group, which seized the country two weeks ago, is expected to arrange its new government in the next two days, according to the deputy head of its political office in Qatar, Sher Abbas Stanekzai.

He told the BBC the new administration would be inclusive but that roles for women would be limited to lower levels.

In the run-up to the withdrawal of US, UK and other forces from Afghanistan, the group vowed to respect people's rights and to allow women to work under the framework of sharia – but many doubt its sincerity.

Watch: UK government thought Kabul was unlikely to fall in 2021

When the Taliban last held power, it strictly enforced its ultra-conservative interpretation of Sunni Islam, banning women from school or working.

But since seizing the country again, the Taliban has sought to reassure Afghans and the West it will respect human rights and not seek revenge.

Taliban officials have urged Afghans not to leave, saying they are needed to help them run the country and make it prosper in the future.

Some employees of the outgoing government have returned to work, while others are in hiding.

The Taliban’s main spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said it was a matter for leadership to decide if women would be included in the new cabinet and he could not anticipate their decision.

Mujahid said officials had already been appointed to run key institutions including the ministries of public health and education and the central bank.

Taliban fighters stand on an armoured vehicle parade along a road to celebrate after the US pulled all its troops out of Afghanistan, in Kandahar on September 1, 2021 following the Talibans military takeover of the country. (Photo by JAVED TANVEER / AFP) (Photo by JAVED TANVEER/AFP via Getty Images)
Taliban fighters celebrate after the US pulled all its troops out of Afghanistan. (Getty)

The Taliban has struggled to keep the country functioning after the final withdrawal of US forces.

Officials are grappling with keeping banks, hospitals and government machinery running following the end of the Western evacuation, which saw than 123,000 people transported from Kabul in the US-led airlift.

In an administrative vacuum, prices have soared and crowds have gathered at banks to withdraw cash.

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Outside Kabul, charity groups have warned of problems as severe drought has hit farmers and forced thousands of rural poor to seek shelter in the cities.

Mujahid said the economic problems being experienced will be eased once the new government is in place.

Watch: Taliban and UK open talks over allowing people to leave Afghanistan