Afghan government says it won’t separately deal with Taliban

He did not endorse or reject the nascent peace talks with the Afghan government despite the fact that, according to the government, Mansoor has been effectively running the Taliban for more than two years and the group’s decision to participate in face-to-face talks in Pakistan last month took place under his leadership. The group’s media arm has meanwhile sought to smooth over evidence of an internal schism by releasing a video that is said to show members pledging allegiance to Mansoor.

The insurgents have tried to keep a unified front but cracks soon emerged in the leadership, with Mullah Omar’s relatives contesting Mullah Mansoor’s appointment and demanding a wider vote that includes battlefield commanders as their almost 14-year insurgency continues. Mutasim Agha Jan, the former finance minister and a close confidant of Mullah Omar, has also refused to submit to the leadership of Mullah Mansour, an official close to Mutasim told the daily.

The statement said the next leader should be appointed on the recommendations of leading Islamic scholars “and those mujahideen who had laid down the base of the Emirate of Afghanistan through their sacrifices”. Meanwhile, a clash broke out between the Taliban militants for the first time since the confirmation of Mullah Omar’s death. Haqqani’s son Sirajuddin was named Mullah Mansoor’s deputy after his promotion.

The Taliban has been engaged in a militancy against Kabul since it was overthrown following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Pakistan has played a major role in bringing the militants and Afghan negotiators on table, facilitating the ice-breaking meeting between the two sides on July 7 in the hill resort of Murree near capital Islamabad. Many in the worldwide community welcomed the development as a first step towards ending 13 years of devastating violence. It said Haqqani backed Mullah Mansoor as the Taliban’s leader.

Political uncertainty inside the Taliban has cast doubt on the prospects for an end to the war in Afghanistan.

It is not clear so far, who derailed the peace process by leaking the news of Mullah Omar’s death. The so-called Islamic State (IS), a rival jihadist group, has increased its presence and influence in Afghanistan and become an additional threat to its cohesion. Pakistan has long been believed to shelter the Taliban leadership in cities such as Quetta, Peshawar and Karachi.

This is clearly a chief concern within the Taliban.

“A few people announced Mullah Akhtar Mansoor as the new leader at a meeting where neither majority of the Shura members nor Ulema were invited”, the council said in a statement.


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