The Taliban Comes Out Against Nepo Babies

Afghanistan’s fundamentalist leader has instructed Taliban officials to sack their sons and other relatives from government posts, and rehire people from outside the family tree.
Taliban members sit overlooking Kabul in January this year. Photo: MOHD RASFAN/AFP via Getty Images

The supreme leader of the Taliban has ordered Afghanistan government officials to sack any relatives working for them, in an apparent crackdown against nepotism in the country.

The decree by Hibatullah Akhundzada, posted on the Afghanistan government’s Twitter page on Saturday, announced that it was forbidden for officials to employ relatives.

“It is an order to all officials in the ministries, departments and independent authorities that no one is allowed to appoint family members or relatives in government positions,” the statement said.


It added that officials should immediately fill the new vacancies with people they weren’t related to.

The announcement reportedly followed concerns about relatives of Taliban officials being appointed to government roles because of their family connections, rather than their skills or expertise.

Since seizing power in August 2021, Taliban leaders have imposed their hardline Islamist vision over Afghan society, banning women from work and girls from school along with other severe restrictions on women.

Afghanistan has long been ranked as one of the world’s most corrupt countries, with endemic corruption and widespread bribery leading to the misappropriation of many of the billions of dollars flowing into the country, weakening the former US-backed government.

Taliban leaders have specifically condemned bribery in public office as a criminal act, and some researchers have claimed there is evidence of a reduction in corruption and bribery in parts of the economy since 2021. 

In the latest Corruption Perceptions Index, published by the Berlin-based nongovernment corruption watchdog Transparency International, Afghanistan’s ranking rose from 174th in the world to 150th. While the report’s authors acknowledged there were anecdotal claims that bribery had reduced under the Taliban, there was no verified evidence of a systemic reduction in corruption in the country, where the security situation made gathering reliable information difficult, and the uplift in the country’s ranking wasn’t statistically significant.