A dissident Afghan Taliban leader, Agha Jan Mutasim, has gone missing in the United Arab Emirate days after he held talks with the Kabul-backed negotiators, his family sources and friends said on Thursday.
Agha Jan, a former Taliban cabinet minister and close aide to the Taliban chief, Mullah Muhammad Omar, had launched his peace movement and, contrary to the Taliban policy, held talks with senior members of the High Peace Council in Dubai last month.
He along with the peace council had agreed to hold more talks to push the peace process and sources close to Agha Jan said he had been working on a plan to convene a conference of religious scholars and to break more Taliban leaders from the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”.
In February, Agha Jan invited some senior Taliban leaders in Dubai for talks who later agreed to hold dialogue with the government of President Hamid Karzai and all other Afghan factions to negotiate a settlement ahead of the Nato withdrawal.
Agha Jan, who is now heading the Islamic Movement of Taliban had earlier told The Express Tribune that some senior Afghan Taliban leaders had argued that as Pakistan has initiated talks with their own Taliban to end bloodshed, why is the Afghan Taliban refusing to talk with its government.
His initiative annoyed the Taliban and its spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, had disowned Agha Jan and had told The Express Tribune that he does not represent the group.
A day after his Dubai meeting, former Taliban minister, Abdul Raqeeb, who had attended one of Agha Jan’s meetings in the UAE, was assassinated in Peshawar.
Agha Jan’s family sources confirmed that they have not been able to contact him since last week. Another former Taliban leader also confirmed that all contact with Agha Jan had been lost.
“I was told by some colleagues in Dubai that the UAE officials have taken him away after raiding his office to Abu Dhabi and he has gone missing for 10 days,” he said.
The source further revealed that Agha Jan might have met a few officials in UAE which might have upset the government. “There are also some speculations that the UAE is angry at Agha Jan’s source of funding,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2014.
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