Khalil-ur-Rahman Haqqani punched Taliban's Mullah Baradar before shootout in Kabul palace: Report

  • Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s most public face who led peace talks with the US, was physically attacked by a leader of the US terrorist-designated Haqqani Network in early September.
At one point during the meeting, Khalil ul Rahman Haqqani rose from his chair and began punching Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.(AFP)
At one point during the meeting, Khalil ul Rahman Haqqani rose from his chair and began punching Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.(AFP)
Published on Sep 17, 2021 07:05 PM IST
Copy Link | Edited by Kunal Gaurav, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

A prominent leader of the Haqqani Network punched Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Taliban co-founder and current deputy prime minister of the so-called Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, which led to a shootout during a meeting at the presidential place in Kabul early September, according to a Bloomberg report. Baradar has earlier headed the Taliban’s political office in Doha to lead the peace talks with the United States after the Trump administration facilitated his release from a Pakistan prison.

Western countries have opted for a wait-and-watch policy in recognising the Taliban government and have repeatedly called on the Sunni Pashtun group to include non-Taliban leaders and ethnic minorities. The Taliban co-founder was at the presidential place to discuss the structure of the government as he pushed for an “inclusive” cabinet that would have been more acceptable to the international community, as per multiple reports.

Amid the heated discussion, Khalil ul Rahman Haqqani, a minister and senior leader of the Haqqani Network, rose from his chair began punching Baradar, reported Bloomberg citing people familiar with the development. The situation quickly escalated and their bodyguards opened fire on each other, killing and wounding a number of them, the report claimed.

The shootout at the presidential palace triggered rumours about Baradar’s death. But the Taliban leader, according to Bloomberg, wasn’t injured and left for Kandahar to speak to the group’s Supreme Leader Haibatullah Akhundzada, who has not been seen in public for a long time. Since then, members of the Taliban have repeatedly rejected the reports of a clash even as Mullah Baradar got sidelined in the Taliban setup and a lesser-known Mullah Mohammad Hassan was appointed as the acting prime minister in the interim government.

Baradar even appeared on state-run television to deny the reports of his death or injury.

“Praise be to God, I am safe and sound,” he said. “Another statement made by the media that we have internal disputes is also completely not true.”

The cabinet has no one from outside the Taliban, with members of the Haqqani family receiving four positions. The Taliban and Haqqani groups merged around 2016. Sirajuddin Haqqani, the US-designated terrorist, was appointed acting interior minister.

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