Nikkei Asia, an English-language newsmagazine owned by Japan-based holding company Nikkei, Inc., reported on December 12 that the new Taliban administration in Kabul has been quietly working on creating a new regular army for Afghanistan.

Taliban leaders have reportedly tasked Defense Minister Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, son of the late Taliban movement founder Mullah Mohammad Omar, and army chief Qari Fasihuddin to create a new army.

"The country needs a small but strong regular army not only to protect and defend the borders but also to counter internal security threats," Mohammad, one of the Taliban leaders working in the Ministry of Defense in Kabul, told Nikkei Asia.  He requested not to be fully named as the Taliban barred cadres from speaking to the media.

Last month, the Taliban reportedly gave all eight military corps of Afghanistan new Islamic historical names, appointed senior Taliban fighters to key positions, and organized military parades with captured American-made armored vehicles and Russian helicopters in the country's major urban centers, including Kandahar and Kabul.  The Taliban militants have also started wearing conventional military uniforms in place of the usual traditional Afghan clothing.

The more than 300,000-strong Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) took over full security responsibility in Afghanistan in January 2015, after the U.S. and NATO ended their international security assistance project.  However, after the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from the country, the ANDSF also collapsed as President Ashraf Ghani fled the country and the Taliban captured Kabul on August 15.

According to Human Rights Watch's new research released on November 30, the Taliban executed and kidnapped more than 100 former ANDSF members in four provinces in the three months after they surrendered following the insurgents' seizure of Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, adopting its strategy in Iraq to absorb thousands of soldiers of Saddam Hussein and its Sunni- dominated Baath Party, the Islamic State's regional affiliate, known as Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K), has attracted a significant number of former ANDSF operatives, who were left vulnerable after Kabul's fall, to its organization.

Analysts said the Taliban want to look like a state by transforming from a militant force and forming a regular standing army.  "The decision [to] create a regular conventional army might be linked with the new Taliban administration's disquiet over gaining international recognition.  They want to show the world they are a state, no longer an armed militia," Basir Ahmed Hotak, a Paris-based Afghan security expert, was quoted as saying by Nikkei Asia.

Meanwhile, Abdul Jabbar, a former ANDSF operative in Kunar, Afghanistan's eastern province, reportedly said the Taliban's soldiers in most parts of the country have been relying on the local population to feed them.  "To create an army, the Taliban need international support, technical assistance and equipment, and in this regard, they are in contact with Islamabad and Beijing," said Jabbar, citing sources within the Taliban regime.

As part of their efforts to protect China's Belt and Road Initiative projects in Pakistan, Islamabad and Beijing have recently succeeded in pushing the Taliban to launch a crackdown on Pakistani separatist groups operating from their sanctuaries in Afghanistan and remove Uyghur rebels from an area that borders China, according to Nikkei Asia.

Islamabad has reportedly shown its willingness to assist the Taliban in forming the new army, but has made it conditional on Pakistan recognizing the Taliban regime and ensuring the representation of all ethnic communities in the army, a recent BBC Urdu broadcast said, citing senior Pakistani military officials.

Analysts also believe a conventional army will help the Taliban maintain its border force and combat a growing insurgency by ISIS-K. According to data compiled through Al-Naba, the group's weekly newspaper, ISIS-K has conducted more than 100 attacks since mid-August, mainly targeting Taliban leaders.  On December 7, ISIS-K ambushed a Taliban police convoy in Nuristan province, killing Mohammad Hanif, a key Taliban figure known for his links to transnational militant groups operating in the province.