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Taliban continued discriminatory policies toward women and girls and rejected U.S. initiative on unfreezing state assets; Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) stepped up deadly attacks.
Taliban leadership continued repression of women’s rights and freedoms. Taliban Supreme Court 4 Sept asserted there was “no need” for female judges. Deputy justice minister next day stated country had “no need” for constitution or political parties. Local authorities 5 Sept reopened girls’ secondary schooling in Paktia province after demands by local tribal elders; de facto authorities, however, closed schools once again, sparking protests. UN special rapporteur 12 Sept highlighted significant deterioration of women’s rights since Taliban takeover. Emir 21 Sept appointed close ally Mawlawi Habibullah Agha as education minister.
Despite poor economic trajectory, Taliban did not accept U.S. proposal on unfreezing state assets. U.S. 15 Sept announced plan to establish fund in Switzerland for disbursement of $3.5bn from frozen Afghan financial reserves. Taliban same day called mechanism “unacceptable”, primarily as it bypassed central bank and excluded Taliban input. Minister of commerce 6 Sept expressed hopes of joining China’s China-Pakistan Economic Corridor megaproject. In apparent prisoner exchange, U.S. 19 Sept handed drug dealer and long-time Taliban supporter, Haji Bashir Noorzai, to Taliban, which released U.S. citizen taken hostage in 2019.
ISKP intensified deadly attacks, Taliban launched new offensive in north. Taliban 1 Sept claimed killing of ISKP’s shadow governor for Farah province (west). ISKP 2 Sept killed firebrand cleric and Taliban supporter Mawlawi Mujib ur Rahman Ansari in suicide blast in Herat province (west). ISKP 5 Sept attacked Russia’s embassy in capital Kabul, killing two Russian diplomats, among others. Blast at Wazir Akbar Khan Mosque inside Kabul’s diplomatic zone 23 Sept caused casualties and bore hallmarks of ISKP. Blast at mosque in Kabul 23 Sept killed at least seven worshippers; similar attack on school in Kabul killed at least 19 students 30 Sept. Meanwhile, Taliban 13 Sept launched major offensive in Panjshir and Andarab provinces against insurgents. Some anti-Taliban political figures, notably National Resistance Front leader, 15 Sept gathered in Austrian capital Vienna. Al-Qaeda 12 Sept claimed group had ceased any attacks against U.S. from Afghanistan.
U.S. killed al-Qaeda chief in first high-profile strike since Aug 2021 withdrawal, Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) targeted Taliban and religious minorities, and Taliban clashed with Pakistani forces. U.S. President Biden 1 Aug confirmed U.S. had killed al-Qaeda chief, Ayman al Zawahiri, in drone strike in capital Kabul on 31 July; Washington accused Taliban authorities of violating Feb 2020 Doha agreement by providing sanctuary to al-Zawahiri, while Taliban countered U.S. conducted strike without informing them. Reports surfaced 5 Aug of widespread protests across country condemning strike. Leaked U.S. intelligence assessment 13 Aug argued al-Qaeda had not regrouped in country. Over 3,000 tribal and religious leaders 19 Aug gathered in Kandahar, including Taliban Emir Hibatullah Akhundzada, to condemn strike and call on neighbours not to cooperate with such “violations of Afghan sovereignty”, as reports suggested U.S. and Pakistan neared deal on U.S. use of Pakistani airspace for future operations. ISKP continued recruitment and lethal attacks. In early Aug, security forces arrested several ISKP cells; recent arrests of Tajiks indicated ISKP’s inroads in recruiting ethnic minority groups. ISKP attacked Hazara civilians in lead-up to Ashura religious commemorations, with three attacks 3-6 Aug. ISKP suicide bombing 11 Aug killed senior Taliban-affiliated cleric Rahimullah Haqqani. ISKP 18 Aug claimed attack on Sufi mosque in Kabul. Insecurity persisted elsewhere. New armed group Watandost Front published video claiming attack on 1 Aug against Taliban forces in Herat province (west). Unknown assailants 8 Aug killed senior Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander Omar Khalid Khorasani in IED blast in Paktika province (east). High Resistance Council for Saving Afghanistan – anti-Taliban resistance group formed in May – 15 Aug held virtual meeting attended by Ahmad Massoud, leader of National Resistance Front (NRF), which resulted in issuance of group’s constitution; NRF also announced its basic principles after meeting. Pakistani and Taliban forces 8 and 22 Aug clashed in Kunar (east) and Paktya (south east) provinces. Taliban defence minister 17 Aug rejected possibility of compromise on Wakhan Corridor amid social media rumours Pakistan might attempt to encroach on thin strip of Afghan territory in order to gain direct access to Central Asia.
UN voiced concerns over human rights under Taliban’s governance, while Taliban continued to battle Islamic State Khorasan Province and Northern Resistance Front. UN Human Rights Council 1 July began session discussing human rights of women and girls in country and adopted resolution reaffirming commitment to rights, including education and free movement. In report on human rights, UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan 19 July reported “erosion of women’s rights has been one of the most notable aspects of the de facto administration to date”. In attempt to garner domestic legitimacy, Taliban authorities organised gathering of nearly 4,500 scholars and community leaders; participants 2 July pledged allegiance to Taliban Emir, denounced rebellion against govt, and called on international community to recognise Taliban govt. On economic front, hardship continued. Local media reports 18 July indicated some 170,000 retired civil servants are yet to receive pensions. Senior Pakistani trade delegation 20 July visited Kabul to discuss continuation of Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement. De facto govt during month sought to reopen women-led businesses, notably in capital Kabul (east), Jowzjan (north), Balkh (north), Herat (west) and Kandahar (south). Meanwhile, Taliban launched raids against Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP): notably, security forces 16 July raided ISKP hideout in Kunduz city (north), allegedly against cell responsible for recent cross-border attacks into Tajikistan and Uzbekistan; 19 July launched raid in Samangan province (north), where they killed ISKP members allegedly responsible for beheading of Taliban fighter on 14 July; 20 July allegedly captured three foreign fighters in Kabul. NGO Human Rights Watch 7 July accused de facto authorities of committing war crimes in their fight against ISKP. UN Sanctions Monitoring Team 19 July reported that al-Qaeda in country does not pose major international threat for now due to lack of capacity and need to stay on good terms with Taliban. Fighting in north also continued between Taliban and Northern Resistance Front (NRF). NRF 7 July purportedly captured Taliban military base in Baghlan province. Taliban mid-July launched offensive against NRF in Baghlan’s Andarab region. NRF leader Ahmad Massoud 12 July claimed NRF had 3,000 armed fighters.
Intra-Taliban debate over social policies continued, World Bank announced new economic projects, and fighting between Taliban and opposition groups persisted. Video 6 June surfaced showing Kabul governor stating current situation regarding women is not acceptable and urged ministry for promotion of virtue and prevention of vice to implement decrees in capital. Deputy FM Abbas Stanikzai 19 June criticised govt’s decision not to reopen girls’ secondary schools. Meanwhile, World Bank 3 June approved three projects totaling $793mn to support essential food, livelihood and health services for Afghans. Taliban govt continued measures in attempt to resuscitate economy, including launching “Afghan Invest” enterprise mid-month and hosting trade show for female entrepreneurs in Kabul 9 June. Media reports early month indicated country’s exports to Pakistan have increased during financial year, from $550mn last year to more than $700mn. Groups opposing Taliban rule continued attacks. Fighting between National Resistance Front (NRF) fighters and Taliban security personnel persisted in Andarab district in Baghlan province (north) and Panjshir province (north). Notably, NRF fighters 17 June downed helicopter operated by Taliban and captured four prisoners in Panjshir. NGO Human Rights Watch 10 June accused Taliban security forces of war crimes in Panjshir, claims which UN Special Rapporteur Richard Bennett tentatively endorsed same day; NGO Amnesty International 16 June accused Taliban of “torture, extrajudicial executions and arbitrary arrest of civilians” in Panjshir. Standoff persisted between Maulawi Mehdi, Shia Hazara Taliban commander, and Taliban security personnel in Balkhab District in Sar-e Pol province (north), raising prospect of first instance of significant intra-Taliban clashes; central authorities removed Mehdi as local intelligence chief in Nov 2021. Taliban forces 28 June launched attack on Balkhab district, capturing district capital following day; residual fighting likely in coming days. Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) 18 June claimed attack on Sikh temple in Kabul, killing at least two people and injuring seven; group said attack was retaliation for derogatory comments made by India’s ruling party (see India).
Taliban imposed further restrictions on women’s rights, opposition stepped up deadly attacks in north, and authorities engaged in regional de-escalation initiatives. After March decision banning girls’ access to secondary schools, govt 7 May announced new restrictions with “hijab” ruling requiring face veil for women when in vicinity of non-family male members; move immediately prompted Western condemnation, further complicating aid efforts. Some govt officials suggested ruling was necessary to appease hardliners, while Minister of Interior Sirajuddin Haqqani 17 May stated girls’ secondary education will resume shortly without stipulating timeline. Leaked decree 16 May also suggested govt had dissolved multiple commissions, including Independent Human Rights Commission. Meanwhile, UN 13 May warned that it will have to reduce number of Afghans it is helping from 38% to 8% due to lack of funding; UN human rights rapporteur in Afghanistan 14 May conducted visit to country 15-26 May, expressed concerns about “serious human rights challenges”, including severe restriction on women’s freedoms. Opposition continued to launch stepped-up attacks in north. Notably, violence early May rose in Panjshir province after video surfaced on social media of Taliban fighters dancing near mausoleum of senior resistance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud during Eid celebrations 1-2 May. While Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid 5 May distanced govt from these actions, by next day rumours had emerged of serious fighting between National Resistance Front (NRF) fighters and Taliban in Takhar, Panjshir, Badakhshan and Baghlan provinces. Govt initially denied reports, but over coming days sent significant reinforcements to north and began claiming victories over rebels. Recent fighting reinvigorated opposition, with High Resistance Council for Saving Afghanistan holding gathering condemning Taliban injustices and calling fighting in north “legitimate” without explicitly endorsing NRF. Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) continued attacks during month; notably, ISKP 8 May reportedly fired Katyusha rockets into Tajikistan. Regionally, tensions with neighbours eased somewhat. Pakistan 18 May participated in Taliban-hosted talks with Pakistan Taliban group (Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, TTP) (see Pakistan); Iran 12 May hosted Taliban delegation following another round of border clashes prompted by videos purporting to show mistreatment of Afghan refugees and Afghan immigrant stabbing three Iranian clerics in Mashhad city.
Taliban announced farming restrictions which could aggravate economic crisis, series of terror attacks claimed over one hundred civilian casualties, and several new armed resistance groups emerged. In move that is likely to exacerbate financial woes of many farmers, Taliban 3 April announced ban on cultivation of all poppy crops and production of all other narcotics (including alcohol); implementation remained uncertain. Taliban also reportedly increased interference in humanitarian efforts in April, pushing for aid to be distributed in coordination with govt. After relatively calm months, country witnessed several mass casualty attacks coinciding with Spring season, mostly targeting Shia Hazara ethnic minority, as Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) launched some of its deadliest attacks of year. Notably, bomb blasts 2 April killed five and injured at least 20 people on playground in Herat (west); bomb blasts 19 April targeted Hazara children going to school and education centres in capital Kabul; bomb blasts 21 April targeted minivan in Kunduz province (north), killing at least 18 govt employees; ISKP same day attacked Hazara mosque in Balkh province (north), killing dozens; bomb blasts 22 April targeted Sunni mosque, killing 33 in Kunduz province, with no group claiming responsibility; twin explosions 28 April killed at least nine people on two buses in Balkh province (north), again targeting Hazara. Explosion at Khalifa Sahib Mosque in Kabul 29 April killed over 50 Sunni worshippers. Grievances against Taliban govt appeared to rise, with several new armed resistance groups emerging, bringing total to near dozen such groups active inside country, mostly in northern provinces; National Resistance Front (NRF) led by Ahmad Massoud, Afghanistan Freedom Front (purportedly led by former General Zia Yasin) and High Council for Resistance (led by Atta Noor) appeared to be particularly active. Most notably, NRF attacks and Taliban counter-operations continued in Panjshir, Parwan, Kabul, Kapisa, Baghlan and Takhar provinces in April. Meanwhile, relations with Pakistan worsened. Pakistan 16 April launched cross-border airstrikes, resulting in dozens of civilian casualties in Kunar and Khost provinces (east); Taliban authorities warned Islamabad of dire consequences, while Pakistan accused Taliban of failing to prevent Pakistani Taliban from launching cross-border attacks against Pakistani security forces.
Taliban expanded security operations against National Resistance Front (NRF) and reversed pledge on girls’ education, while rising global food prices aggravated humanitarian crisis. Taliban continued to appoint loyalists, including appointments 4 March in defence sector and judiciary and 13 March in civilian and technical positions. Following 25 Feb Taliban large-scale search operations in north, specifically in Kabul, Kapisa, Parwan and Panjshir, in attempt to forestall spring offensive by NRF, Taliban early March expanded operations to Logar and Laghman provinces (east), Baghlan province (north), and Herat and Badghis provinces (west); rumours rose of imminent large-scale operations in Nangarhar province (east). Risk of Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) and NRF resuming operations in warmer weather remained. Meanwhile, Taliban continued restrictions on civil dissent and media freedom. Tolo News 18 March reported authorities had ordered all networks to stop broadcasting foreign drama series; Taliban’s intelligence branch same day briefly arrested senior Tolo News figures. NGO Afghan Journalist Safety Committee 19 March stated that authorities had arrested eleven journalists and media workers within past two days. In first sign of willingness to hold elections, authorities 9 March held municipal poll in one district of capital Kabul. Meanwhile, Taliban introduced economic policies to address unfolding humanitarian crisis; Kabul municipality 6 March imposed price caps on essential commodities and Ministry of Finance 12 March announced tax, arrears and penalty waivers for small taxpayers. Ministry of Education 17 March announced that all schools, including girls’ secondary schools, would open on 23 March; in last-minute reversal, Taliban 23 March decided to close secondary schools to girls, prompting chaotic scenes and widespread international condemnation as female secondary school students took to streets to demand their right to education. On humanitarian front, World Bank 1 March announced plan to use $1bn from Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund to address urgent needs in education, health, agricultural and communal livelihood sectors; humanitarian crisis could however further worsen in coming months as donor states consider how to respond to Taliban’s decision on girls’ secondary schools and rising global food prices affect 23mn people on brink of famine.
Taliban continued to consolidate its rule as international actors unfroze country’s financial assets and pressured regime to respect women’s rights. Taliban continued to fill govt positions with Taliban loyalists. Taliban 2 Feb appointed Qari Salahuddin Ayubi, an ethnic Uzbek, as head of Mansoori army corps, reportedly to appease Uzbek Taliban fighters after arrest of popular Uzbek commander Makhdoom Alam on 12 Jan. Taliban appointed some women in symbolic govt positions, including Dr Malalai Faizi as director of Malalai Maternity Hospital 31 Jan. Taliban information ministry 13 Feb also appointed Nisa Mobarez as women’s representative in Badakhshan province. Some women protesters that were apparently abducted by Taliban authorities were released around 13 Feb following international outrage; Taliban did not officially confirm their arrest or release. Journalists continued to complain of Taliban’s media restrictions including short-term detentions. Taliban authorities also temporarily detained two foreigners working for UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Targeted attacks against former govt figures continued. Unknown assailants 11 Feb attacked former Hizb commander Mohammad Khan’s house, resulting in death of his son, wife and bodyguard; Taliban claimed attack was result of family feud, while Khan rejected claim. Taliban forces 5 Feb arrested at least 24 Baloch separatists from Baloch Liberation Army group, which is waging insurgency against Pakistan (see Pakistan). Attacks by Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) subsided, while attacks by Northern Resistance Front (NRF) appeared to be on the rise; NRF-affiliated fighters clashed with Taliban forces in Balkh and Baghlan provinces (north) during month, and Taliban launched major military operations against NRF forces in Panjshir late Feb. Internationally, U.S. President Biden 11 Feb signed executive order to split $7 billion of frozen Afghan reserves, with half of money removed from pending legal cases so it can be utilised “for the benefit of the Afghan people”. World Bank 19 Feb considered plan to use $1 billion in frozen Afghan trust fund for education, agriculture, health and family programs. Meanwhile, Taliban delegation 7 Feb visited Switzerland to discuss humanitarian assistance; 15 Feb visited Qatar’s capital Doha to meet Arab Gulf and EU representatives.
Taliban continued to tighten their rule as government increasingly imposed ideologically driven policies; for first time since August takeover, group showed signs of disunity. Taliban imposed policies regulating social behaviour. Notably, Taliban officials 3 Jan ordered shopkeepers in parts of Herat province (west) to remove heads from display mannequins (as per their beliefs, representations of human figures are prohibited in Islam). Authorities 25 Dec dissolved Independent Election Commission and Electoral Complaints Commission, institutions that had overseen presidential and parliamentary polls. Taliban continued to target figures who challenge their rule; security forces 8 Jan erroneously arrested prominent critic Professor Faizullah Jalal (who was released a few days later), and 6 Jan reportedly arrested social media activist Faisal Mudarres, following his coverage of Dec Panjshir protests. Reports also claimed Taliban arrested female protesters mid-month; six women’s rights activists abducted in capital Kabul remained missing by end of month. Taliban leadership has denied responsibility for incidents, and have yet to clarify whereabouts of missing women or identify culprits. Attacks by Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) and Northern Resistance Front (NRF) continued albeit at reduced rate, in part because of harsh winter conditions. Taliban FM Amir Muttaqi 10 Jan met NRF head in Iran but talks do not appear to have borne any immediate results. Taliban 12 Jan arrested one of their popular Uzbek commanders, Makhdoom Alam, in Mazar city, Balkh province, revealing possible ethnic divisions between Uzbek and Pashtun Taliban; Alam’s arrest led to sporadic Uzbek Taliban-led protests in Faryab province’s Maymana city (north west), with reports that Uzbek Taliban had disarmed and expelled Pashtun Taliban from city. In response, Taliban 16 Jan deployed suicide attack unit to quell unrest; situation appeared to have quietened by month’s end. Internationally, Taliban 9 and 24 Jan visited Iran and met with European and U.S. officials in Norway’s capital Oslo; international counterparts have yet to formally recognise Taliban as new Afghan govt. EU 21 Jan announced it had started to re-establish diplomatic presence in capital Kabul. Meanwhile, tensions with Pakistan persisted over security at Afghanistan-Pakistan border (see Pakistan entry).
Taliban consolidated their rule across country, launched new offensive in north and faced skirmishes at border with Iran. Taliban’s governing approach of continuing provincial-level policy on some issues, rather than consolidating and centralising all policies, surfaced during month. Notably, social media updates showed group promulgating rules for medical centres and pharmacies in north, banning music in south and issuing price lists to curtail inflating prices for basic commodities in several districts of Kabul province. Taliban 3 Dec issued decree on women’s issues, including consent in marriage and inheritance rights, with no mention however of women’s education or recent closure of women’s schools in parts of country; 26 Dec introduced decree prohibiting women from travelling more than 45 miles unless accompanied by male relative. Taliban sought to appease minority groups, specifically Shia Hazara; notably, govt 25 Dec appointed Abdul Latif Nazari as deputy minister of economy, making him second Hazara to be appointed at deputy ministerial level. Taliban increased operations against remnants of Northern Resistance Front (NRF) in north; Taliban 1 Dec claimed having killed several NRF members in Samangan province (north); 5 Dec raided NRF hideout in Baghlan province (north). Taliban carried out raids in several cities across country, notably in Helmand province (south) 5 Dec, seizing large quantities of munitions. Islamic State Khorasan Province did not carry out large-scale attacks during Dec; group however showed signs its operations are expanding across country, as with ambush 7 Dec targeting provincial police chief in Nuristan province (east), killing multiple Taliban soldiers. Taliban and Iranian forces 1 Dec clashed at border in Afghanistan’s Nimroz province, leaving multiple casualties on both sides, while reports revealed Taliban forces may have entered Iranian territory and captured several Iranian border checkpoints; situation quickly de-escalated through discrete talks between two sides. Relations strained with Pakistan over continued presence of Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan and isolated incidents over border fencing. Taliban 19 Dec attended Organisation of Islamic Cooperation conference to discuss country’s humanitarian crisis. UN Security Council 22 Dec adopted Resolution 2615 that offers exemption to sanctions regime to allow greater humanitarian support to Afghanistan.
Amid worsening economic situation, Taliban continued to consolidate power despite ongoing small-scale security threats from Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) and clashes with National Resistance Front. Taliban head Emir Hibatullah Akhundzada 7 Nov decreed major reshuffle in Taliban’s provincial structure, announcing 44 new personnel, including 17 governors; reshuffle seeks to limit commanders from developing local powerbases while promoting loyalists and demoting unruly commanders. Overall economic situation continued to deteriorate, but Taliban’s finances improved as it 16 Nov auctioned $2.1 mn after initially announcing it would auction $10 mn; group 20 Nov announced it would resume some salary payments to govt employees and retired civil servants. Meanwhile, ISIS-K attacks focused on Taliban security personnel and ethnic minority Hazaras. Notably, ISIS-K 2 Nov attacked Sardar Daud Khan Military Hospital in capital Kabul, killing dozens, including Taliban’s commander for Kabul’s military corps, Maulawi Hambdullah Mukhlis. UN Envoy to Afghanistan Deborah Lyons 19 Nov said ISIS-K is now active in all provinces of country. In response, Taliban cracked down on ISIS-K suspects, resulting in disappearances and extrajudicial killings throughout country; Taliban 10 Nov claimed to have arrested 600 ISIS-K suspects. Meanwhile, reports of fighting between National Resistance Front and Taliban continued throughout month in northern Parwan, Panjshir and Baghlan provinces. Regional diplomatic activities focused on alleviating worsening economic and humanitarian situation. Taliban delegation led by FM Amir Khan Muttaqi 10 Nov met with members of Troika Plus (Pakistan, Russia, China, U.S.) in Pakistan; Troika Plus agreed to ease banking restrictions on govt. India same day chaired regional security dialogue on Afghanistan with seven neighbouring countries. Reports 4 Nov emerged that Taliban facilitated covert talks between Pakistani Taliban and Pakistan (see Pakistan). Taliban and U.S. officials 29-30 Nov held talks in Qatar’s capital Doha to discuss wide range of issues.
Insecurity persisted as Islamic State Khorasan Province launched dozens of attacks, killing scores, and land disputes resurfaced amid dire food crisis across country. Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) significantly ramped up its activities against Taliban, carrying out dozens of attacks, including three that caused mass casualties. Notably, ISIS-K 3 Oct killed five civilians attending funeral for Taliban spokesperson’s mother in capital Kabul; 8 Oct killed more than 40 civilians at Shiite mosque in Kunduz province (north); 15 Oct killed at least 50 civilians at Shiite mosque in Kandahar city (south). Additionally, smaller-scale attacks against Taliban security personnel occurred daily throughout country, notably in Nangarhar (east), Kunar (east) and Kunduz (north) provinces. In response, Taliban raided ISIS-K hideouts in Kabul, Parwan (east) and Kunduz (north) provinces, killing ISIS-K members and family members, arrested hundreds of ISIS-K suspects, particularly in Nangarhar (east) and Kunar (east), and increased checkpoints to limit freedom of movement between provinces. Separately, Northern Resistance Front maintained low-level resistance, launching small-scale attacks in Panjshir and Parwan provinces (north). UN warned of unprecedented levels of hunger as drought and economic crisis left half country acutely food insecure, according to 25 Oct UN assessment. Ethnic and tribal tensions increased due to competition over resources. In Daikundi and Ghazni provinces (centre), land disputes led to displacement of ethnic minority Hazaras. In Daikundi province, two-decade-old land dispute between Pashtun tribes of northern Uruzgan and Hazaras of Daikundi resurfaced. On political front, Taliban 5 Oct announced additional govt appointments, including Maulawi Abdul Kabir as Deputy PM for Political Affairs, Maulawi Matiul Haq, son of Younus Khali, as head of Red Crescent, and Nurudding Turabi as his deputy; 28 Oct announced Maulawi Abdul Hakim Haqqani as head of Supreme Court. Internationally, despite meetings with U.S., Russian, Turkish and Indian officials during month, Taliban made little progress to gain formal recognition of govt, and to get country’s financial assets unfrozen by U.S. govt. However, working relations continued with Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, China and Kyrgyzstan; relations with Pakistan deteriorated amid border skirmishes after Taliban accused Islamabad of implementing restrictions on transit of goods and people.