Senior Taliban leader Waheedullah Hashimi said on Thursday the group would not implement democracy in Afghanistan because Afghan culture and Islamic sharia law do not support such a political system.
“There will be no democratic system at all because it does not have any base in our country. We will not discuss what type of political system we should apply in Afghanistan because it is clear. It is sharia law and that is it,” Hashimi told Reuters.
The Taliban leader envisioned the Taliban forming a mullah-approved ruling council, possibly with a deputy to supreme commander Hibatullah Akhundzada as its “president.”
The most likely choice for council president appears to be Abdul Ghani Baradar, also known as Baradar the Butcher, a founding member of the Taliban who helped its fanatical spiritual leader Mullah Mohammad Omar organize students along radical Islamist lines after the Soviet invasion.
Baradar is the only surviving top leader of the Taliban appointed to his position by Mullah Omar, who died in 2013, and he is the most visible of the group. The other contenders include Omar’s son Mawlavi Yaqoob and Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of the Haqqani Network, the militant organization behind the kidnapping of American deserter Bowe Bergdahl.
Supreme leader Akhundzada, like Baradar, fought against the Soviet invasion and was a sharia judge in the 1990s. He is more reclusive than Baradar, who returned to Afghanistan with great fanfare for the conquest this week.
Hashimi anticipated few problems with adding Western-trained pilots and technical experts to the Taliban’s fighting force, allowing it to take advantage of the aircraft and advanced military equipment included in the vast treasure trove of American weapons left behind by President Joe Biden.
“Most of them have got training in Turkey, and Germany, and England. So we will talk to them to get back to their positions. Of course we will have some changes, to have some reforms in the army, but still we need them and will call them to join us,” he said of Afghan government troops switching sides to join the Taliban.
Hashimi said the Taliban was especially eager to recruit pilots for its new helicopters, drones, and other aircraft. He acknowledged that the collapsing Afghan government was able to send about a quarter of its planes and helicopters to neighboring Uzbekistan, but said the Taliban expects that equipment to be returned.
“We have contact with many pilots,” he said. “And we have asked them to come and join, join their brothers, their government. We called many of them and are in search of (others’) numbers to call them and invite them to their jobs.”
The Afghan air force was supposed to be one of the most powerful weapons in its arsenal against the Taliban, but Biden canceled both military and private support for the air force before the Taliban blitz began, leaving it helpless to intervene.
A bitter Afghan pilot said on Tuesday that problems with “logistics, maintenance, and corruption” brought on by the withdrawal “really hurt us.” He also took exception to Biden’s excuse that Afghan forces refused to fight for their own country.
“I know people in the U.S. are upset that we didn’t fight longer. But we’ve been fighting for decades, and some of us even longer. When the U.S. left, it really affected morale, especially how quickly it happened,” the pilot said.
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