Taliban top negotiator calls it quits

Published: August 5, 2015
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A file photo of Sayed Tayyeb Agha. PHOTO COURTESY: EPA

A file photo of Sayed Tayyeb Agha. PHOTO COURTESY: EPA

ISLAMABAD: The head of Taliban’s political office in Qatar, Sayed Tayyeb Agha, has resigned citing differences over the election of the ultraorthodox militia’s new supremo Mullah Akhtar Mansoor. Tayyeb Agha, who was a close confidant of the deceased Taliban spiritual leader, described Mullah Mansoor’s election outside Afghanistan as a ‘historic mistake’ and accused the leadership of keeping the death of Mullah Omar secret despite his repeated demands for the voice of the elusive Taliban chief.

“I’ve decided that my role as the head of the political office and my political responsibility has come to an end. I will not be practically involved in issuing statements and decision-making. I will not be a part of the present internal affairs of the Taliban and will not side with anyone as efforts are under way to give the movement into the hands of aliens,” he said in a statement emailed to The Express Tribune.

Notwithstanding, the Qatar political office declared allegiance to the new Taliban chief, the group’s spokesman Zabihuallah Mujahid said. Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanekzai, the deputy chief of the Qatar office, said the Qatar office would continue its activities while keeping in view ‘national interests’.

The Express Tribune has learnt that prominent Islamic scholars have stepped up efforts to broker reconciliation between Mullah Omar’s family and Mullah Mansoor. A well-known religious leader from Kandahar, Sheikh Abdul Hakim, leading a group of scholars, met both sides on Tuesday. Taliban sources are confident Mullah Omar’s family would announce support for the new leader.

On the other hand, a top Taliban commander, Mansoor Dadullah, also came up with strong opposition to the new Taliban chief and said a new leader should be nominated from Mullah Omar’s family. Dadullah told The Express Tribune by the phone from Afghanistan that he would not support the new chief as he was not elected by the majority of the leadership council.

Tayyeb Agha said the new chief should not be elected outside Afghanistan as such decisions in the past had consequences for Afghanistan. “It would have been better, had the election of Islamic Emirate’s leader taken place in the bunkers of the valiant Mujahideen and he would lead an independent life like the honourable Amir-ul-Momineen,” he said.

The resignation comes at a time when splits among the Taliban have come to the fore. Mullah Omar’s son Mullah Yaqub and several other top leaders and council members are unhappy with Mullah Mansoor’s election. Taliban officials told The Express Tribune that Tayyeb Agha had never been on good terms with Mullah Mansoor even when Mullah Omar was alive.

Earlier, the Taliban office in Qatar had distanced itself from the Pakistan-brokered peace talks. Taliban representatives had met face-to-face with Afghan government officials in Murree on July 7.  According to Taliban sources, Mullah Mansoor had approved the talks. However, in his first audio after becoming Taliban chief, Mullah Mansoor cast doubts on peace talks, saying that “peace talks are the enemy’s propaganda”.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2015.

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