A month later, Akhundzada, Haqqani and Yaqoob remain in shadows

By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sep 16, 2021 10:37 AM IST

Sirajuddin Haqqani, the head of an eponymous terror group, travelled to Quetta over the weekend due to personal safety concerns; Akhundzada is still to be seen in Kandahar or Kabul, while Yaqoob remains in shadows.

A month after Sunni Pashtun Islamists militarily took over Kabul, there is uncertainty and confusion within the Taliban government with US designated global terrorist and Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani remaining in the shadows and visiting Quetta earlier this week. Haqqani belongs to Miramshah or Peshwar Shura of Taliban with Defence minister Mullah Yaqoob Omari is part of the Quetta Shura. Haqqani is said to have returned to Kabul on Wednesday night.

Taliban fighters stand next to ammunition along a road in Malaspa area, Bazark district in Panjshir province.(AFP Photo)
Taliban fighters stand next to ammunition along a road in Malaspa area, Bazark district in Panjshir province.(AFP Photo)

Also Read | 10 changes in Afghanistan in 30 days of Taliban rule

Kabul watchers say that the main players of Taliban, particularly self-declared Emir-ul-Momin Haibatullah Akhundzada’s whereabouts are not clear as he has not been seen in public either in Kandahar or in Kabul. While deputy prime minister Mullah Baradar is in Kandahar nursing his angst at being politically humiliated by both Haqqani and Yaqoob, the latter two are also lurking in the shadows. “Haqqani’s visit to Quetta over the weekend shows that the crown prince of terror is still worried about his physical safety in Kabul due to over the horizon capabilities of US Central Command as well as the resistance still led by Amrullah Saleh,” said a senior official. Haqqani has a bounty of $10 million on his head as declared by the FBI.

According to intelligence officials, the Taliban government is still to start governing as there is political jostling within the Cabinet with Haqqani group controlling Kabul through the domination of its Zadran tribe military cadre touching nearly 6000. Even the intelligence chief of Taliban government is special assistant to Sirajuddin Haqqani. As there is no regular Afghan Army as such, the role of defence minister Yaqoob is largely ceremonial as Taliban cadre are with Haqqani. The key portfolios of border and tribal affairs and, information and broadcasting are held by hardcore Taliban terrorists who were released from Guantanamo Bay prison by the Obama administration.

To add to political instability in Afghanistan is the regrouping of al Qaeda forces as publicly declared by a top CIA official. Al Qaeda has filial ties and symbiotic relationship with Taliban even though they belong to opposing schools of Islam with former a Wahhabi-Salafi group and the latter a Deobandi group. The regrouping of al Qaeda means that there is no change in the present Taliban from the past and will give sleepless nights to counter-terrorism organizations in the neighbourhood.

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    Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011, Hachette) and Himalayan Face-off: Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014, Hachette). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel.

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