Mullah Mansoor was ‘about to join peace talks’ when killed

Published: July 11, 2016
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Late Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor. Photo released by the group in June following his death in US drone strike.

Late Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor. Photo released by the group in June following his death in US drone strike.

ISLAMABAD: Slain Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor “was about to make an announcement to join peace talks” when a US pilotless aircraft targeted him in May, a Taliban leader claimed on Sunday.

The Taliban believe Mansoor’s killing was a part of a conspiracy to scupper peace talks. “Mansoor had wrapped up a series of discussions with the Qatar-based representatives in April and May and was planning to unveil his policy about peace negotiations, but his death in the US drone attack killed all hopes,” the Taliban leader told The Express Tribune on Sunday.

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Mansoor was killed in a US drone strike in Naushki district of Balochistan on May 21 along with a driver shortly after he entered Pakistan from Iran.

When the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG), which is made up of Afghanistan, Pakistan, the US and China, first proposed talks in January, the Taliban had set some preconditions for joining the peace initiative which included removal from a UN blacklist names of their leaders and lifting of sanctions on the group.

While the QCG did not accept the preconditions, the Taliban continued internal discussions on the subject. “The representatives of the Qatar-based political office had favoured talks and majority of the Taliban leaders also had a similar approach during the discussions,” the Taliban leader said, adding that there was a minority group among senior Taliban leaders who did not want talks at that stage.

“The ‘Amirul Momineen’ [Mansoor] was to announce a final and positive decision based on our hectic consultations,” he added.

People familiar with Taliban leaders in Qatar have also confirmed there was “growing favourable environment” for peace talks in the days leading up to the Naushki strike.

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In this regard, a Taliban delegation from the political office had arrived in Pakistan on April 26 to discuss prospects of direct talks with the Kabul administration. It was the first time the Taliban had confirmed a visit to Pakistan by its negotiators.

However, no progress was made in those talks as President Ashraf Ghani announced a policy shift just a day before in his address to parliament on April 25. He had opted for war after suicide bomb attacks on a security agency’s office in Kabul killed 64 on April 19.

“We believe the assassination of our chief at that critical time was a conspiracy,” the Taliban leader claimed.

Asked why the Taliban refused to join talks in early March, he said the group was excluded from QCG.

“The Islamic Emirate leaders had been involved in discussions to chalk out strategies as to what should be the policy if we take part in talks under the QCG, or with the Kabul administration, or with the US?” the Taliban leader said. “All discussions were stopped due to the martyrdom of our chief.”

To a question about the policy adopted by Mansoor’s successor, Maulvi Haibatullah, towards peace talks, the Taliban leader said the group’s new chief has not yet focused on this option and that it could take some time.

Change in mindset

Taliban leaders have shifted their focus towards a political solution in Afghanistan which they believe has been ‘Afghanised’ with foreign forces mostly confined to their bases.  “This (Afghanised) aspect is the only factor that could pave the way for peace talks,” one Taliben explained when asked why the group’s leaders had changed their minds about talks.

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The Qatar office, however, is in favour of interacting with Afghans at unofficial forums like conferences in different countries. At such forums, officials from the Afghan government, politicians, lawmakers, members of the civil society and activists can have face-to-face conversation with the Taliban.

“We are in favour of such meetings as it provides [an] opportunity to Afghans to sit and listen to each other’s views. Government leaders can also join these meetings in [their] personal capacity,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2016.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • wiserneighbour
    Jul 11, 2016 - 8:58AM

    Another false flag initiated by Pakistan Recommend

  • nadeem
    Jul 11, 2016 - 9:11AM

    He was probably also ready to accept the Durand Line on behalf of Afghanistan, and he was about to do many other good things as well. Most likely, he was also ready to stand for Prime Minister in the 2018 election – after all he had been granted Pakistani citizenship by you-know-who, so he was eligible to run for office in this country. Recommend

  • Logitech
    Jul 11, 2016 - 9:41AM

    Why is a Pakistani daily promoting Taliban propaganda?

    Mansour had actually increased attacks, especially against soft (civilian) targets in Kabul and elsewhere. The reason he was killed was because he wouldn’t compromise.Recommend

  • Nobel Laureate
    Jul 11, 2016 - 9:45AM

    He was also on the verge of being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Recommend

  • basil
    Jul 11, 2016 - 9:51AM

    @wiserneighbour:
    The news (right or wrong) came from Afghanistan and not Pak.But we all know when US and China were negotiating with Taliban, who broke the news of Mullah Umer’s death which killed the peace talk!Recommend

  • Afghan
    Jul 11, 2016 - 11:07AM

    He was ready to do many good things alas US took this man….! Actually I was told that he had already joined the peace negotiation and had already made a deal with the Afghanistan government….Humanity lost such a kind and great person! lolRecommend

  • Point
    Jul 11, 2016 - 11:49AM

    Since past all those leaders are killed with drone when they plan to sit to negotiation. I remember how this Pakistani Taliban leader when decided to sit for peace talks was killed immediately the next morning with drone!!

    Yet people are sleeping and have blind eyes to reality.Recommend

  • Fahim
    Jul 11, 2016 - 11:59AM

    That is why he was killedRecommend

  • Gurion
    Jul 11, 2016 - 12:01PM

    When the drone stuck him, he was just about to;

    1) reverse global warming
    2) find cure for cancer
    3) discover cold fusion
    4) unify relativity and quantum mechanics
    5) decode Indus script
    And the main reason for Americans targetting him,
    5) divulge JFK’s assassinRecommend

  • zoro
    Jul 11, 2016 - 12:08PM

    LOL LOOL…. ROFL …. what a funny headline ….. heheheheRecommend

  • Muhammad Hussain
    Jul 11, 2016 - 2:41PM

    US has always de-railed peace talks , actually they dont want peace in that region. Recommend

  • M.S.
    Jul 11, 2016 - 6:25PM

    One of the best excuse by Taliban supporters.Recommend

  • G. Din
    Jul 11, 2016 - 7:23PM

    @Gurion:
    What a great loss to humanity! And, just because US wanted to get credit for all those accomplishments and deny it to Taliban. What a pity!Recommend

  • Pnpuri
    Jul 11, 2016 - 8:29PM

    One should not speak ill of a dead man. But apparently either Mulla Mansour or his advisers played an interesting peace talk game. For about two years, Mulla Mansour participated in peace talk on behalf of and as representative of Mulla Omar, who was dead for long. No body can represent a dead man or make any commitment on behalf of dead person. nor any such commitment can be enforced. Once it was known that Mulla Omar is dead and mulla Mansour became supreme leader of Talibans, he was no more interested in talks. Recommend

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