Mawlavi Abdul Hakim is a Taliban senior leader who led the Taliban’s negotiating team in Doha, Qatar and headed the movement’s Pakistan-based shadow Supreme Court.“Leader Of Taliban's New Afghan Regime Says Shari'a Law Will Govern All Aspects Of Life,” Radio Free Europe, September 7, 2021, https://gandhara.rferl.org/a/taliban-names-afghan-government/31448288.html. The shadow Supreme Court operated as a court within the Taliban’s de facto governmental structure following their fall from power in Afghanistan in 2001.“Letter dated 19 May 2020 from the Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1988 (2011) addressed to the President of the Security Council,” United Nations Security Council, May 27, 2020, https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/s_2020_415_e.pdf. Following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, Hakim was named law minister of the Taliban government.“Taliban forms 33-member cabinet in Afghanistan: Full list,” Hindustan Times, September 8, 2021, https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/taliban-forms-33-member-cabinet-in-afghanistan-full-list-101631066722518.html.
Hakim is an ethnic Pashtun from the Ishaqzai clan and was born in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, an area considered the spiritual home of the Taliban.Frud Bezhan, “Why Did The Taliban Appoint A Hard-Line Chief Negotiator For Intra-Afghan Talks?,” Radio Free Europe, September 10, 2020, https://www.rferl.org/a/why-did-the-taliban-appoint-a-hard-line-chief-negotiator-for-intra-afghan-talks-/30832252.html. Hakim is widely respected among the Taliban for his religious credentials, having graduated from and taught at the Darul Uloom Haqqania Islamic seminary in northwest Pakistan. The seminary is known for advancing a fundamentalist brand of Islam and features notorious alumni such as the late Taliban founder Mullah Mohammed Omar and the late leader of the Haqqani network, Jalaluddin Haqqani.Shafiq Ahmad, “Who's who in Taliban interim government?,” Anadolu Agency, September 9, 2021, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/whos-who-in-taliban-interim-government/2360424; Frud Bezhan, “Why Did The Taliban Appoint A Hard-Line Chief Negotiator For Intra-Afghan Talks?,” Radio Free Europe, September 10, 2020, https://www.rferl.org/a/why-did-the-taliban-appoint-a-hard-line-chief-negotiator-for-intra-afghan-talks-/30832252.html.
During the Taliban’s first reign in the 1990s until 2001, Hakim served as a judge in the Taliban’s courts in Kandahar.Shafiq Ahmad, “Who's who in Taliban interim government?,” Anadolu Agency, September 9, 2021, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/whos-who-in-taliban-interim-government/2360424. Following the Taliban’s fall from power in 2001, Hakim spent some time in Quetta, Pakistan, where the exiled Afghan Taliban leadership was based. According to media sources, despite the Taliban’s fall from power, Hakim served as the “shadow” minister of justice during the administrations of former Afghan presidents Hamid Karzai and Ashraf Ghani. As shadow minister of justice, Hakim imposed sharia law in areas that were under the Taliban’s control.Shafiq Ahmad, “Who's who in Taliban interim government?,” Anadolu Agency, September 9, 2021, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/whos-who-in-taliban-interim-government/2360424.
Beginning in February 2019, the Taliban began peace negotiations with the United States, signing the Doha peace agreement with the U.S. government on February 29, 2020.Kathy Gannon, “Mullah’s rise charts Taliban’s long road back to power,” Associated Press, August 18, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/afghanistan-taliban-abdul-ghani-baradar-e80165eb6c65fc7ea8fae50212ba56c8; “Pullout and guarantees dominate talks with US: Taliban spokesman,” Al Jazeera, February 26, 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/2/26/pullout-and-guarantees-dominate-talks-with-us-taliban-spokesman; Ayaz Gul, “Taliban Expects Peace Deal With US in Next Meeting,” Voice of America, July 31, 2019, https://www.voanews.com/a/south-central-asia_taliban-expects-peace-deal-us-next-meeting/6172955.html. The terms of the agreement stated that the United States would fully withdraw military troops from Afghanistan within the next 14 months. In exchange, the Taliban agreed to renounce al-Qaeda and prevent al-Qaeda and other groups from using Afghanistan as a base for terrorism against the United States. The Taliban also agreed to negotiate a permanent ceasefire with other Afghan militants and the Afghan government.Asad Hashim, “Pakistan warns US of ‘spoilers’ on US-Taliban deal in Afghanistan,” Al Jazeera, March 1, 2020, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/03/pakistan-warns-spoilers-taliban-deal-afghanistan-200302093650382.html; Matthew Lee and Kathy Gannon, “US and Taliban sign deal aimed at ending war in Afghanistan,” Associated Press, February 29, 2020, https://apnews.com/491544713df4879f399d0ff5523d369e; “Susannah George and Dan Lamothe, “Afghan government objects to elements of U.S.-Taliban peace deal,” Washington Post, March 1, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/afghan-government-questions-aspects-of-us-taliban-peace-deal/2020/03/01/0a973228-5a68-11ea-8efd-0f904bdd8057_story.html. In September 2020, the Taliban began negotiations with the Afghan government to establish a more secure and cooperative future for Afghanistan.Susannah George, Aziz Tassal, and Haq Nawaz Khan, “Shadow politicians, clerics and Soviet-era fighters: The Taliban’s team negotiating peace,” Washington Post, September 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/afghan-taliban-peace-talks/2020/09/30/a5333540-f859-11ea-85f7-5941188a98cd_story.html. On September 5, 2020, Hakim was appointed the Taliban’s key negotiator.Tahir Khan, “Taliban give hard-line cleric key role in Afghan talks,” Arab News, September 5, 2020, https://www.arabnews.com/node/1729991/world. However, the talks were continually stalled and did not lead to an eventual peace agreement.Susannah George, Aziz Tassal, and Haq Nawaz Khan, “Shadow politicians, clerics and Soviet-era fighters: The Taliban’s team negotiating peace,” Washington Post, September 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/afghan-taliban-peace-talks/2020/09/30/a5333540-f859-11ea-85f7-5941188a98cd_story.html.
The Taliban began its offensive against major Afghan cities on August 6, 2021.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 16, the Taliban laid siege to the presidential palace and took complete control of Kabul, declaring 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 last U.S. troops flew out of Kabul on August 30, 2021, ending a 20-year war that took the lives of 2,500 American troops and 240,000 Afghans and cost about $2 trillion.Peter Baker, “All in or All Out? Biden Saw No Middle Ground in Afghanistan.,” New York Times, September 1, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/28/us/politics/trump-taliban-biden-afghanistan.html; Nancy A. Youssef and Gordon Lubold, “Last U.S. Troops Leave Afghanistan After Nearly 20 Years,” Wall Street Journal, August 30, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/last-u-s-troops-leave-afghanistan-after-nearly-20-years-11630355853. 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. Hakim was appointed law minister.“Taliban forms 33-member cabinet in Afghanistan: Full list,” Hindustan Times, September 8, 2021, https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/taliban-forms-33-member-cabinet-in-afghanistan-full-list-101631066722518.html. 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.