The reclusive leader told the conference that Afghanistan “cannot develop without being independent,” according to the state-run Bakhtar news agency.
“Thank God we are now an independent country. (Foreigners) should not give us orders, this is our system and we have our own decisions,” Akhundzada added.
The speed of the takeover, just weeks after the US troop withdrawal began, surprised the world and led to the dissolution of the foreign-backed government of Ashraf Ghani, who fled the country.
Akhundzada made the comments in an audio recording during a three-day religious gathering of 3,000 attendees – all of whom were men, according to state media. The meeting was not open to the media, but CNN listened to the recording of Akhundzada’s speech.
A senior religious cleric from the Taliban’s founding generation, Akhundzada was named leader of the Taliban in 2016 after the group’s previous leader, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor, was killed in a US airstrike in Pakistan.
He retained the post when the group announced its interim government in September.
Akhundzada ruled out the involvement of previous administrations in forming a future government, although he said he had “forgiven” them.
“I forgave the oppressors of the previous regime. I don’t hold them accountable for their past actions, if someone causes them trouble without committing new crimes, I will punish them. However, forgiveness does not mean bringing him into the government,” Akhundzada said in the audio.
The announcement appeared to contradict statements made by other members of the Taliban leadership in recent months, who expressed a willingness for a more inclusive government to gain international support.
The international community has repeatedly called on the Taliban to expand the ranks of their government and restore the rights of women and girls that have been denied since the group seized power, if they want to be officially recognized. The World Bank has frozen projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars over the problem.
At an emergency meeting held in Geneva on Friday, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned that “women and girls in Afghanistan are experiencing the most significant and rapid delay in the enjoyment of their rights anywhere in decades.”
Speaking to the clerics, Akhundzada reaffirmed his commitment to the implementation of Sharia, Islam’s legal system derived from the Koran, while expressing his opposition to the “lifestyle of non-believers”.
The Taliban’s harsh interpretation of Sharia law when they were last in power led to dozens of violent punishments, including the stoning of suspected adulterers, public executions and amputations.