File Photo: Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid (L) gestures as he speaks during the first press conference in Kabul taken on August 17, 2021. AFP
The Taliban expanded their interim Cabinet by naming deputy ministers Tuesday, but failed to appoint any women, doubling down on a hard-line course despite the international outcry that followed their initial presentation of an all-male Cabinet lineup earlier this month.
The international community has warned that it will judge the Taliban by their actions, and that recognition of a Taliban-led government would be linked to the treatment of women and minorities. In their previous rule of Afghanistan in the late 1990s, the Taliban had barred girls and women from schools, work and public life.
Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid defended the latest additions to the Cabinet at a news conference Tuesday, saying it included members of ethnic minorities, such as the Hazaras, and that women might be added later.
Mujahid bristled at international conditions for recognition, saying there was no reason for withholding it. ``It is the responsibility of the United Nations to recognize our government (and) for other countries, including European, Asian and Islamic countries, to have diplomatic relations with us,'' he said.
The Taliban have framed their current Cabinet as an interim government, suggesting that change was still possible, but they have not said if there would ever be elections.
Mujahid was also asked about the recent restrictions imposed on girls and women, including a decision not to allow girls in grades six to 12 to return to classrooms for the time being.
Mujahid suggested this was a temporary decision, and that ``soon it will be announced when they can go to school.'' He said plans were being made to allow for their return, but did not elaborate.