KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghanistan’s Taliban prime minister defended the group’s regime in a public address on Saturday, saying it was not responsible for the worsening economic crisis and was working to correct the corruption of the ousted government. He also rejected international pressure for the formation of a more inclusive cabinet.

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The half-hour audio played on state-run media was the first such public address by Mohammad Hassan Akhund since the Taliban captured Kabul and secured their rule over the country three months ago.

The takeover by the Taliban has led to the cessation of international aid to the government and the blocking of billions of dollars in Afghan assets held abroad, worsening an already crumbling economy.

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Akhund said the problem of worsening unemployment and the financial meltdown had begun under the previous, US-backed government, adding that Afghans should not believe the claim that the Taliban are to blame.

“Country, be alert. People hiding from the previous government… are creating concern, misleading people to trust their government,” he said.

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He pointed to widespread corruption, saying the deposed government ran the “weakest system in the world”. On the contrary, he said, the Taliban are eliminating corruption and bringing security across the country.

“We are trying our best to solve the problems of the people. We are working overtime in every department,” Akhund said. The group had formed committees to resolve the economic crisis and pay salaries to government employees. who have largely gone without pay for months.

UN officials have warned of a humanitarian crisis with millions of Afghans plunging deep into poverty and facing hunger – with increasing numbers on the verge of starvation.

Afghanistan is in the grip of one of its worst famines in decades, and the economic collapse means many people are unable to afford food.

Akhund urged the people to pray for an end to the famine, which he called “a test from God, after the people rebelled against him”.

The United States and other countries have refused to recognize the Taliban government unless it includes much of Afghanistan’s ethnic and political spectrum – as well as women – and unless it guarantees women’s rights. Gives.

All ministers in the current cabinet come from the ranks of the Taliban. The Taliban have not completely banned women in the public sphere as they did during their previous regime in the late 1990s.

But he has ordered most female government employees not to come to work and high school girls not to return to school, although he has allowed younger girls.

Rejecting the demands, Akhund said that the government has members from across the country.

He insisted the Islamic emirate – as the Taliban call its government – “has saved the dignity of women.”