Prime Minister Akhund's audio address was his first to the nation since the Taliban seized power in August.

Hassan's audio speech broadcast on state television came ahead of next week's meeting with the United States in Doha.
Hassan's audio speech broadcast on state television came ahead of next week's meeting with the United States in Doha. (Rahmat Gul / AP)

The Taliban co-founder and now Prime Minister of Afghanistan Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund has pledged that his government will "not interfere" in other countries internal affairs.

Hassan's audio speech broadcast on state television – his first address to the nation since the Taliban seized power in August – came on Saturday, ahead of next week's meeting between the United States and the Taliban in Doha.

"We assure all the countries that we will not interfere in their internal affairs and we want to have good economic relations with them," said Hassan in a nearly 30-minute speech.

"We ask all the international charity organisations to not withhold their aid and to help our exhausted nation... so that the problems of the people could be solved," he added.

“Nation, be vigilant. Those left over from the previous government in hiding are ... causing anxiety, misleading the people to distrust their government,” he said.

The ousted government had run “the weakest system in the world,” he said, pointing to pervasive corruption.

In contrast, he said, the Taliban are eliminating corruption and have brought security around the country.

The speech came amid criticism on social media for remaining silent since the group took power, even as the nation faced severe challenges.

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Financial hurdles after takeover

Hassan's government faces a series of challenges, in particular reviving the country's dilapidated economy that has been dried of international aid, which used to make up 75 percent of the national budget under the previous US-backed governments.

Inflation and unemployment have surged in Afghanistan, while the country's banking sector has collapsed since the Taliban takeover.

The financial crunch was aggravated after Washington froze about $10 billion of assets held in its reserve for Kabul, and deteriorated further after the World Bank and International Monetary Fund halted Afghanistan's access to funding.

The United Nations' aid agencies have warned that a major humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Afghanistan, with more than half of the country's 38 million population expected to face hunger this winter.

Hassan is a Taliban veteran who was a close associate and political advisor to Mullah Omar, the founder of the movement and its first supreme leader.

Said to be in his 60s, Hassan served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister during the movement's previous rule between 1996-2001.

READ MORE: UN urges action to avoid 'colossal' collapse of Afghan banking system

Source: TRTWorld and agencies