Choosing a low profile leader: Is Taliban movement on rapid decline?
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2016-05-28 08:28:29

Choosing a low profile leader: Is Taliban movement on rapid decline?

mullah

 

Religious scholar Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, named Wednesday as the Afghan Taliban’s new leader, was a senior judge during the insurgent group’s five-year rule over Afghanistan and issued many of its harsh verdicts. Believed to be aged in his fifties, he hails from Afghanistan’s southern province of Kandahar like both his former boss — Mullah Akhtar Mansour, who was killed in a US drone strike on Saturday — and Taliban founder Mullah Omar, who died in 2013. Akhundzada went on to become the group’s “chief justice” after a US-led invasion toppled the Taliban government in 2001. He was a close ally of Mansour and was one of his two deputies. Akhundzada is not known for his prowess on the battlefield, having preferred a life of religious and legal study. He is said to have issued many of the group’s rulings on how Muslims should comply with the Taliban’s extreme interpretation of Islam. The appointment of Mansoor 10 months ago was deeply divisive and the Taliban have moved quickly and with uncharacteristic openness to appoint his replacement. The choice of Haibatullah, said to be a scholarly man who runs a madrassa, is possibly an attempt to place a lower-profile and less controversial figure at the helm. In doing so, the Taliban may be hoping to lower the target-value to the Americans of the new leader as well as bringing a degree of unity to a much-fragmented entity. The appointment leaves in place the two men who were deputies to Mansoor, neither of whom have made any substantive move in the direction of the peace process. The appointment of Haibatullah was quickly welcomed by Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, but the position of the new leader vis-a-vis engagement with the peace talks is yet unknown, and he has made few public pronouncements on which to base any analysis one way or the other — and considering the generally enigmatic nature of Taliban leaders thus far, he may be saying little now or in the future. It can but be hoped that Haibatullah is of a more pacific nature than his erstwhile predecessor, and that the Taliban may indeed finally decide to come to the table and talk peace.

pk.shafaqna.com

 

 

 

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