Din Mohammad Hanif is a U.N.-sanctioned Taliban senior leader who previously served as the Minister of Higher Education and the Master of Planning under the Taliban regime of the 1990s.“Security Council 1988 Committee Amends 105 Entries on Its Sanctions List,” U.N. Security Council, November 29, 2011, https://www.un.org/press/en/2011/sc10465.doc.htm. According to the United Nations, Hanif also served as a member of the Taliban Supreme Council responsible for Takhar province and his home province of Badakhshan.“Security Council 1988 Committee Amends 105 Entries on Its Sanctions List,” U.N. Security Council, November 29, 2011, https://www.un.org/press/en/2011/sc10465.doc.htm. He is an ethnic Tajik.“How Qatar came to host the Taliban,” BBC News, June 22, 2013, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-23007401. Following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan on August 15, 2021, Hanif was named the economy minister of the Taliban government on September 7.Douglas Schorzman, “Who Are the Taliban’s New Government Leaders? Here’s What We Know,” New York Times, September 7, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/article/taliban-leaders-afghanistan.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article; “Factbox: Taliban announces makeup of new Afghan government,” Reuters, September 7, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/taliban-announces-makeup-new-afghan-government-2021-09-07/.
In early 2015, the Taliban announced that it was willing to enter into peace talks geared toward ending the conflict in Afghanistan. According to Taliban commanders and senior Pakistani officials, Hanif led a delegation of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar.Jibran Ahmad, Mehreen Zahra-Malik, “Pakistan expose obstacles to Afghan peace talks,” Reuters, March 12, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-taliban-talks-idUSKBN0M81A720150312. The Taliban delegation met in Islamabad, Pakistan, with Pakistani army leaders and Chinese diplomats. According to a Taliban commander, Hanif briefed them on the meeting, in which Pakistani officials called on the Taliban to smooth a rift between two top leaders, Akhtar Mohammad Mansour and Abdul Qayum Zakir.Jibran Ahmad, Mehreen Zahra-Malik, “Pakistan expose obstacles to Afghan peace talks,” Reuters, March 12, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-taliban-talks-idUSKBN0M81A720150312.
In June 2015, Hanif and another Taliban official traveled to Oslo, Norway, at the same time as Afghan officials. Despite speculation that the two sides were meeting to negotiate, the Taliban issued a statement denying that its officials met with Afghan government officials there.Mushtaq Yusufzai and Fazul Rahim, “Taliban Talks: Militants Say They’ll Meet Afghan Offficials in Norway,” NBC, June 16, 2015, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/taliban-talks-militants-meet-afghan-government-representatives-norway-n375421.
On August 6, 2021, the Taliban began an offensive against major Afghan cities with the seizure of Zaranj, capital of Nimruz province.Susannah George and Ezzatullah Mehrdad, “Taliban fighters overrun an Afghan provincial capital for the first time since withdrawal of foreign forces,” Washington Post, August 6, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/08/06/afghanistan-taliban-nimruz/. By August 13, the Taliban controlled 17 of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals and more than two-thirds of the country.Rahim Faiez, and Joseph Krauss, “Taliban sweep across Afghanistan’s south; take 4 more cities,” Associated Press, August 13, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/middle-east-taliban-c6c8d4a41c554f36031a8131538d1402. On August 15, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan and thousands of Afghans poured into Kabul’s airport as Taliban fighters entered the city. By August 16, the Taliban laid siege to the presidential palace and took complete control of Kabul, after which the Taliban declared the war in Afghanistan had ended.“Taliban declares ‘war is over’ as president and diplomats flee Kabul,” Reuters, August 15, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/talibans-rapid-advance-across-afghanistan-2021-08-10/. The Taliban has claimed that it would take on a more “moderate” approach in their ruling of the country, and that women are allowed to have roles in public life in observance of “Islamic law.”“Factbox: Taliban seek to present a moderate face as they take control in Afghanistan,” Reuters, August 15, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/taliban-seek-present-moderate-face-they-take-control-afghanistan-2021-08-15/.
On September 7, 2021, the Taliban announced the official appointments within their caretaker government. Hanif was named economy minister. The government is exclusively male, with many positions filled with veterans from their hardline movement in the early nineties.Matthieu Aikins and Jim Huylebroek, “Taliban Appoint Stalwarts to Top Government Posts,” New York Times, September 7, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/07/world/asia/taliban-women-protest-kabul-afghanistan.html; Kathy Gannon, “Taliban form all-male Afghan government of old guard members,” Associated Press, September 8, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/middle-east-pakistan-afghanistan-arrests-islamabad-d50b1b490d27d32eb20cc11b77c12c87; “Factbox: Taliban announces makeup of new Afghan government,” Reuters, September 7, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/taliban-announces-makeup-new-afghan-government-2021-09-07/.
The European Union listed “Din Mohammad Hanif” as a ‘natural person’ associated with the Taliban.“Proposal for a COUNCIL REGULATION imposing certain specific restrictive measures directed against certain persons and entities associated with Usama bin Laden, the Al-Qaida network and the Taliban, and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 467/2001 prohibiting the export of certain goods and services to Afghanistan, strengthening the flight ban and extending the freeze of funds and other financial resources in respect of the Taliban of Afghanistan,” Commission of the European Communities, March 6, 2002, http://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regdoc/rep/1/2002/EN/1-2002-117-EN-F1-1.Pdf.
The U.N. Security Council sanctioned “Din Mohammad Hanif” as an individual associated with the Taliban on January 25, 2001.“Security Council 1988 Committee Amends 105 Entries on Its Sanctions List,” U.N. Security Council, November 29, 2011, https://www.un.org/press/en/2011/sc10465.doc.htm.