New Afghan government that could be announced soon will be headed by Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar Akhund, The Hindu quoted sources in the Islamist group as saying on Friday (3 September). Mullah Baradar heads the political office of Taliban which seized Kabul on 15 August.
Born in 1968 in Uruzgan province, Baradar is a Durrani Pashtun from the Popalzai tribe, sharing tribal loyalties with former Afghan President Hamid Karzai. As one of the few leaders close to Mullah Omar, Baradar served as the Taliban’s deputy defence minister during the 1996-2001 regime.
India is reportedly hoping that Baradar's experience of being an international negotiator with the US, and head of outreach with other major powers will influence his approach to policies that impact India.
Baradar and other Taliban leaders like Mullah Abdul Rauf Aliza, Mullah Ahmad Jan Akhundzada reportedly belong to a more moderate section within the Taliban.
After US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Baradar fled to Pakistan and organised military resistance against US, becoming the head of Rahbari Shura. However, in 2010, Pakistani government arrested him and threw him in jail for eight years as they suspected him of collaborating with the Hamid Karzai government and US. In 2018, Pakistan government released him on US persuasion in order to begin negotiations to the end of war.
Meanwhile, Pakistan intelligence chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed has reportedly arrived in Kabul leading a delegation of Pakistani officials as heavy fighting is underway in Panjshir valley and the Taliban is set to announce the formation of a new government.
The Taliban will come to power even as it struggles with rival forces in Panjshir and groups like Islamic State-Khorasan Province; gaining international recognition; and avoiding economic collapse. The Afghan economy is grappling with drought and the ravages of a war that killed an estimated 2.5 lakh Afghans.
Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, the son of late Taliban founder Mullah Omar, and Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai will be in senior positions in the government. Sirajuddin Haqqani may also be given a position of power. “All the top leaders have arrived in Kabul, where preparations are in the final stages to announce the new government,” a Taliban official told Reuters.
While the West as well as India have adopted a wait-and-see approach to the Taliban, China confirmed a tweet from a Taliban spokesman indicating that Beijing will keep its embassy in Kabul open.
“We hope the Taliban will establish an open and inclusive political structure, pursue moderate and stable domestic and foreign policy, and make a clean break with all terrorist groups,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.
The Afghan economy for years has been relying on millions of dollars of foreign aid, which may stop once the Taliban take over. Humanitarian groups have warned of an imminent economic catastrophe.
Lately, the Taliban have been playing all sides in their statements, from promising protection of rights to strict imposition of Sharia; from reaching out to India to saying they will take up any "Muslim" cause including Kashmir's, while saying they don't support violence.
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