File Photo: Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif receives Afghan Foreign Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund (right) in Islamabad. The Taliban announced Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund as the leader of their new government in Afghanistan on September 7, 2021. AFP
No country has yet recognised the Taliban government, with nations watching to see how the hardline Islamists -- notorious for human rights abuses during their first stint in power between 1996 and 2001 -- will rule this time around.
Although the group has promised a softer brand of governance, women are largely excluded from government employment, and secondary schools for girls have mostly remained shuttered.
"I call on Muslim countries to take the lead and recognise us officially. Then I hope we will be able to develop quickly," Mohammad Hassan Akhund told a conference in Kabul to address the country's massive economic crisis.
"We do not want anyone's help. We don't want it for the officials," Akhund said, referring to diplomatic recognition.
"We want it for our public," he said, adding that the Taliban had fulfilled all necessary conditions by restoring peace and security.
Aid-dependent Afghanistan is in the grip of a humanitarian disaster, worsened by the Taliban takeover in August -- when Western countries froze international aid and access to assets held abroad.
Jobs have dried up, and many government workers have not been paid for months in a country that was almost entirely dependent on foreign aid under the previous US-backed government.
The United Nations has warned that half the population is threatened with food shortages.
Nations face the delicate task of channelling aid to the stricken economy without propping up the regime, with many members of what the Taliban call their interim government -- including Akhund -- on an international sanctions list.
The Taliban veteran was a close associate and political adviser to Mullah Omar, the founder of the movement and its first supreme leader.
Last month, a special meeting of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) declined to formally recognise the government, and the new regime's foreign minister was excluded from the official photograph taken during the event.
The OIC did, however, pledge to work with the United Nations to try to unlock hundreds of millions of dollars in frozen Afghan assets.
It also urged Afghanistan's rulers to abide by international obligations regarding the rights of women.
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were the only three countries to recognise the previous Taliban government.