After Quick Victory, Taliban Find Governing Is Harder

KABUL, Afghanistan — Sitting within the residence of the spy chief of the fallen Afghan authorities, cradling a Beretta submachine gun in his lap, Mawlawi Habib Tawakol recounted how he and his fighters had been shocked at how shortly they had been ordered to enter Kabul on Aug. 15, even after the Taliban’s speedy advance throughout Afghanistan.

That morning, Mr. Tawakol’s Taliban unit arrived on the outskirts of the Afghan capital, anticipating to camp on the market probably for weeks whereas a proper handover was negotiated. But there can be little ready. President Ashraf Ghani and plenty of different senior officers had been fleeing, catching everybody off guard.

“That afternoon, our management ordered us to enter town so as to stop looting,” he mentioned. The Taliban intelligence chief, Hajji Najibullah, informed him and his males to hurry to the headquarters of the Afghan spy company, the National Directorate of Security, to safe gear and paperwork. Prison cells, places of work, safety posts — all had been deserted.

“There was nobody there besides a deputy director, who handed the constructing to us,” Mr. Tawakol mentioned. “All the prisoners had already escaped.”

Two weeks later, the Taliban are anticipated to formally announce their new authorities as early as Thursday, together with naming the insurgency’s high spiritual determine, Sheikh Haibatullah Akhundzada, because the supreme chief of Afghanistan. But there may be nonetheless an necessary hole between naming a authorities and absolutely taking on its capabilities, as Mr. Tawakol and different Taliban officers have discovered.

In Kabul, as in a lot of the nation, most necessary authorities departments, other than street-level safety, usually are not functioning.

The Taliban have urged officers with the previous authorities to remain of their roles, and a few have. But within the face of a looming financial disaster, together with a worsening money scarcity that has put strains on the provision of gasoline, meals and different staples, the previous two weeks have been a scramble by the Taliban to determine themselves, each within the public eye and in follow, because the nation’s new governors. Much of the Afghan public stays deeply distrustful, given the harshness of the Taliban’s final authorities.

Although shocked by the speedy give up of the Afghan authorities, the Taliban motion has been getting ready to take energy for greater than a decade, steadily increasing its shadow authorities in ready. Over the years, they’ve fashioned nationwide commissions for sectors like well being care and training, appointing officers right down to the district degree throughout a lot of the nation.

Mawlawi Bakhtar Sharafat, who served as an official through the earlier Taliban regime, has been head of the Taliban’s public works fee since its inception three years in the past, in control of issues together with the restore and maintenance of roads and bridges.

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On Aug. 16, the day after Kabul’s fall, Mr. Sharafat was in Kandahar, on his solution to examine newly conquered infrastructure in western Afghanistan. But that evening, he acquired an pressing message from Mawlawi Muhammad Yaqoub, a senior Taliban chief who presently capabilities as the chief authority.

“I used to be informed to please go and management your ministry in Kabul,” Mr. Sharafat recounted in an interview with The New York Times. With him had been some staffers from the earlier administration.

When he arrived in Kabul on the public works workplace, whose earlier minister had fled, he met with the remaining workers and reassured them with the motion’s assurance of a basic amnesty, a part of a marketing campaign to induce cooperation from civil servants, safety officers, and most people.

“People shouldn’t be afraid,” he mentioned. “We ought to stay collectively.”

While a lot of Kabul’s elite fled the nation forward of the Taliban, a couple of senior officers selected to stay at their posts. Wahid Majrooh, the Afghan minister of public well being, mentioned he turned down a suggestion to flee with President Ghani.

“I stayed within the workplace and took the danger,” he mentioned in a latest interview. “If I go away, my administrators and advisers will go away.”

The morning after the militants entered Kabul, Mr. Majrooh went to his workplace, the place he was visited by the Taliban’s provincial well being commissioner from neighboring Logar Province. “He was shocked to see me,” he mentioned. “His conduct was respectful, however he had no clear message.”

Mr. Majrooh, apprehensive about an outbreak of violence or a mass casualty assault, needed to make sure that his hospital community stayed open. He advised that he and the Taliban official go and rally the workers at two hospitals in a Hazara Shiite neighborhood in western Kabul, the place residents can be most terrified of the Taliban’s arrival. “He mentioned, ‘Great thought, let’s go!’” Mr. Majrooh recalled.

For the previous two weeks, Mr. Majrooh has shared his workplace with Mawlawi Abdullah Khan, head of the Taliban’s well being fee, whose cooperation he credited with serving to coax workers again to work.

“Most ministries are locked, their companies are disrupted,” he mentioned, including that for well being companies, nonetheless, “90 p.c of our workers have come again.”

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Yet the general public well being ministry now faces the identical imminent monetary disaster as the remainder of the federal government, and far of Afghanistan’s financial institution funds and different financing stay frozen by the U.S. and Western governments. The well being care sector is especially depending on donor assist; in response to Mr. Majrooh, most organizations he works with have already suspended operations and halted contracts.

“We weren’t anticipating them to cease funding so instantly,” he mentioned. “I get calls from hospitals that they’re operating out of gasoline, oxygen, and electrical energy.”

Even because the Taliban have established management over Afghanistan’s formal establishments, its management has pursued extra conventional strategies, together with an outreach by the highly effective Invitation and Guidance Commission, led by Amir Khan Muttaqi. The fee’s occasions included a gathering of non secular students on the Loya Jirga corridor in Kabul final week, the place the tricolor flags of the fallen Afghan republic stay painted on the wall behind the stage.

At the Ministry of Peace in downtown Kabul, Khalil Haqqani, uncle of the Taliban’s deputy chief, Sirajuddin Haqqani, has held a sequence of conferences with tribal elders, former authorities officers and army pilots, urging them to assist the brand new Taliban authorities. Last Thursday, flanked by uniformed guards wielding American M4 carbines, Mr. Haqqani presided over a gathering that included Allah Gul Mujahed, a former member of Parliament from Kabul, who requested the viewers to cooperate with the Taliban.

“All who settle for this nice legislation, which is the holy Quran, increase your hand,” Mr. Haqqani mentioned.

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In his capability as particular consultant to the motion’s supreme chief, Haqqani requested contributors to swear bayah, an Islamic oath of allegiance. Over the previous two weeks, a succession of Afghan energy brokers have taken these oaths in his presence, together with Gul Agha Sherzai, the previous governor of Kandahar, and Hashmat Ghani, brother of the previous president.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s chief spokesman, mentioned that the brand new authorities can be based on its spiritual legitimacy.

“The folks of Afghanistan have fought exhausting for 20 years for the institution of an Islamic system,” he mentioned in an interview with The Times at his workplace in Kabul final week. “We had 5 elections and so they had been all corrupt. Each time an American minister needed to come and determine the outcome. In Islam, we have now the precept of the shura to symbolize the folks.”

Mr. Mujahid and his press staff have tried to current a cooperative face to the world and to an Afghan public that’s skeptical after the earlier Taliban authorities’s harsh therapy of girls and minorities through the 90s, in addition to the insurgents’ violence towards civilian targets through the struggle.

“We have many factors of widespread curiosity,” Mr. Mujahid mentioned, itemizing terrorism, opium manufacturing, and refugee flows as potential areas of cooperation with the West.

He mentioned that though the Taliban would guarantee a strict segregation between genders in faculties and workplaces, ladies can be free to review and work, in addition to go away the home unaccompanied.

“In the earlier regime, we noticed that there was not solely monetary corruption however ethical corruption,” he mentioned. “If we separate women and men, then folks will be happy to ship their wives and daughters.”

On Wednesday, Taliban officers mentioned that the brand new Islamic authorities of Afghanistan can be introduced imminently, with Sheikh Haibatullah because the supreme authority.

Still unclear was the function of a management shura, or council, and whether or not its membership would fulfill the Taliban’s promise of constructing an inclusive authorities. The query additionally stays of whether or not leaders from earlier governments, comparable to Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, who’ve remained in Kabul for talks, shall be included.

In the interview, Mr. Mujahid emphasised, nonetheless, that the brand new authorities envisioned by the Taliban wouldn’t be a democracy.

“Some of the ideas of democracy are in contradiction with the ideas of Islam,” Mr. Mujahid mentioned. “For instance, in a democracy, the persons are sovereign. But in Islam, God is sovereign. The Quran is sovereign.”

Jim Huylebroek contributed reporting from Kabul.