KABUL/ISLAMABAD: Taliban chief Sheikh Haibatullah Akhundzada will lead the new government in Afghanistan.
According to The News report by Azaz Syed, multiple sources within the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistani officials confirmed that the group have finally decided that their Amir would be the new head of the state.
Sources further claim that Haibatullah Akhundzada would also be the commander-in-chief of the Afghan military.
Meanwhile, sources revealed to The Pakistan Daily that initially there was a dispute between Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and the Haqqani group. Both groups wanted a top spot in government. It may be assumed that to resolve this matter Taliban chief himself is going to take the major slots.
On the other hand, Taliban chief deputies Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Mullah Yaqoob (son of Mullah Omar) and Sirajuddin Haqqani (son of late Jalaluddin Haqqani) are also playing a key role in the formation of the new government.
Mullah Baradar would also hold an important position to assist the Amir in running the government, according to The News report.
There are also some differences within the Taliban on two slots in the new government, the first one is finance ministry and the second one is defence.
The sources claim that Sirajuddin Haqqani is interested in finance, where Mullah Gul Agha has already been nominated, but both might not get the same slot as they are still wanted with head money and are on the sanctions list by America and the United Nations.
Sirajuddin will remain in Rahbari Shura until their names are not removed from the wanted lists of the international community.
The sources also claim that the slot of defence ministry is yet another key position which is a bone of contention within the Taliban. Although, Mullah Yaqoob remained the army chief of the Taliban, but Mullah Zakir is also interested in the slot. However, it seems that Mullah Yaqoob has clear leverage over Zakir.
Interior ministry is yet another important ministry where Khalil Haqqani is often seen addressing big gatherings, however, it is said that Sadr Ibrahim would be the interior minister and Khalil Haqqani would be heading the slot of peace minister, according to The News report.
Meanwhile, Sher Mohammad Abbas Satanikzai has already been appointed as the new foreign minister of Afghanistan and he has informally started working and posing as the foreign minister by meeting different international delegations in Doha where he recently has flown.
Who is Sheikh Haibatullah Akhundzada?
Akhundzada replaced Mullah Akhtar Mansour as Amir ul Momineen after the latter was killed by a US drone attack near Ahmad Wal, close to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
Considered more a religious leader rather than a military commander or a politician, Akhundzada is famous for issuing fatwas (non binding legal opinions) for the Taliban, determining the limits of what they can and cannot do from an Islamic perspective.
He belongs to the Noorzai tribe and has spent most of his life in Afghanistan, although, sources have claimed that he had also lived in Pakistan.
It has also been claimed that Akhundzada is closely affiliated with the Quetta Shura, a group of Afghan Taliban leaders who are said to operate from Quetta, Baluchistan in Pakistan. It has also been alleged that the Quetta Shura is controlled by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Akhundzada was involved in the Soviet war since the 1980s, where he operated as a resistance fighter. When the Taliban was formed by Mullah Omar, Akhundzada was one of the first members to join the militant group.
Despite his experience managing religious affairs, Akhundzada has also shown military prowess after he was made in charge of all the fighting in the Farah province after it was captured by the Taliban. Akhundzada has also served as the head of the Taliban’s military court in the Nangarhar province before rising to the post of Chief Justice of the Sharia Courts in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
He has also led the training of over 100,000 students in a Madrassah (religious seminary) preparing students for Jihad (holy war).
Akhundzada is famous for setting up a system of ‘Shadow Governors” where Taliban leaders were appointed as shadow governors in every province even if it was under the control of the now defunct Afghan Army or US forces. The shadow governors investigated abusive commanders in their respective provinces.
A spokesman for the Taliban, Yousef Ahmadi confirmed that on 20 July 2017, Akhundzada’s son Abdur Rahman died after carrying out a suicide attack on an Afghan military base in the Helmand province. While Rahman’s death could not be confirmed by Afghan officials, it reflects that Akhundzada may condone suicide bombings for political gains.
In all religious, political and financial matters pertaining to the Taliban, Maulvi Hibatullah Akhundzada has the final say.
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