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The Azadi Briefing: Taliban Minister Under Fire For Alleged Nepotism


Shahabuddin Delawar (right), the Taliban's mining and petroleum minister, has been accused of nepotism after his son was appointed as the extremist group's ambassador to Uzbekistan.
Shahabuddin Delawar (right), the Taliban's mining and petroleum minister, has been accused of nepotism after his son was appointed as the extremist group's ambassador to Uzbekistan.

Welcome to The Azadi Briefing, an RFE/RL newsletter that unpacks the key issues in Afghanistan. To subscribe, click here.

I'm Abubakar Siddique, senior correspondent at RFE/RL's Radio Azadi. Here's what I've been tracking and what I'm keeping an eye on in the days ahead.

The Key Issue

Shahabuddin Delawar, the Taliban's mining and petroleum minister, has been accused of nepotism after his son was appointed as the extremist group's ambassador to Uzbekistan.

Maghfoorullah Shahab, Delawar's younger son, took over Afghanistan's embassy in Tashkent on February 4.

Delawar's elder son, Rohullah Shahab, is already serving as a senior bureaucrat in the office of a Taliban deputy prime minister. Meanwhile, his son-in-law, Shamsuddin Ahmadi, holds a senior position in the Kabul municipality.

Delawar has come under rare criticism from Taliban members, some of whom have said his son's appointment as ambassador was a brazen display of political nepotism.

Why It's Important: The allegations against Delawar are a blow to the Taliban's claims that its hard-line government is free of nepotism and corruption.

In a decree issued last year, Taliban chief Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada told "all officials in the ministries, departments, and independent authorities that no one is allowed to appoint family members or relatives in government positions."

Delawar is not alone in appearing to defy Akhundzada's orders.

Taliban Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani's uncle, Khalil ur-Rahman Haqqani, is the refugee affairs minister. Members of the extended Haqqani family also hold important posts in the intelligence service and the administration in southeastern Khost Province.

Taliban founder Mullah Omar's son, Mullah Mohammad Yaqub, is the powerful defense minister. Yaqub's uncle, Mullah Manan Omari, is the labor and social affairs minister.

What's Next: Many officials from the fallen Western-backed Afghan government were accused of using their positions to grant favors to their relatives.

It appears that allegations of political nepotism are also likely to dog Taliban officials.

Taliban leaders appear likely to use their positions to enrich themselves and consolidate their power.

What To Keep An Eye On

Global rights watchdog Amnesty International (AI) has urged the Taliban to release two Afghan education activists.

Samira Hamidi, a South Asia campaigner for AI, on February 8 urged the Taliban to release Ahmad Fahim Azimi and Sediqullah Afghan.

"They must be released immediately," she wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, adding that despite a lack of evidence against the two, a Taliban judge sentenced them to prison in an "unfair trial."

Azimi and Afghan are known for campaigning for girls' education, which the Taliban has severely restricted.

They were arrested in October by the Taliban's intelligence service and now languish in the notorious Pul-e Charkhi prison in Kabul.

Their arrests have been widely condemned by rights activists.

Why It's Important: The arrests of Azimi and Afghan are part of the Taliban's wider crackdown on dissent.

Since its return to power, the Taliban has detained and jailed scores of journalists and activists for publicly opposing its repressive policies.

That's all from me for now. Don't forget to send me any questions, comments, or tips that you have. You can always reach us at azadi.english@rferl.org

Until next time,

Abubakar Siddique

If you enjoyed this briefing and don't want to miss the next edition, subscribe here. It will be sent to your inbox every Friday. You can always reach us at azadi.english@rferl.org

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    Abubakar Siddique

    Abubakar Siddique, a journalist for RFE/RL's Radio Azadi, specializes in the coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is the author of The Pashtun Question: The Unresolved Key To The Future Of Pakistan And Afghanistan. He is also one of the authors of the Azadi Briefing, a weekly newsletter that unpacks the key issues in Afghanistan.

Azadi Briefing

Radio Azadi is RFE/RL's Dari- and Pashto-language public service news outlet for Afghanistan. Every Friday, in our newsletter, Azadi Briefing, one of our journalists will share their analysis of the week’s most important issues and explain why they matter.

To subscribe, click here.

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