Speculation has intensified over the whereabouts of the Taliban’s most senior leader and caretaker deputy prime minister, as he has been absent from public for a long time.
Taliban co-founder Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, also known as the supreme leader for running the Taliban government, has been missing from the public eye since August 15, when Islamists group came to power.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who is on the UN sanctions list of terrorists and designated as the prime minister’s first deputy, has not been seen since reports of injuries sustained in shootouts with rival Taliban factions.
Taliban officials attempted to quell the rumors by calling it “baseless propaganda” and released a video of Baradar purportedly at a meeting and a handwritten letter by the deputy’s aide.
The Islamic group also reportedly released an audio message with an old picture of Baradar.
The Taliban’s quick response to dispel rumors about his absence has prompted comparisons with the cover-up of the death of Taliban founder Mullah Omar. Thereafter, the group continued to issue audio messages and written statements in his name for two years after his death – before the group later confirmed his death.
“Mulla Baradar, Deputy PM, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, in a voice message rejected all claims that he was injured or killed in a conflict. He says this is a lie and completely baseless,” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said on Twitter.
Video footage released by the Taliban purportedly shows Baradar at meetings in the southern city of Kandahar. But the videos didn’t show anything to confirm the time or date when they were taken.
The audio message also raised questions as it comes at a time when the Taliban is no longer a hiding group but is officially under the control of Afghanistan.
Baradar was also a key Taliban official who oversaw peace talks with the US in Doha.
He said, ‘There was news of my death in the media. I have been on trips since last few nights. Wherever I am at the moment, we are all fine, all my brothers and friends,” a voice claiming to be from Baradar said in the audio clip.
“The media always publishes fake propaganda. So, bravely dismiss all those lies, and I confirm to you 100 percent that there is no problem and we have no problem.
The speculation has been fueled by a report by Panjshir Supervisor That Baradar was injured during a violent clash with members of the Haqqani network in Kabul on 3 September.
Clashes between supporters of Baradar and supporters of Haqqani Network chief Sirajuddin Haqqani reportedly flared up over internal rivalry after the announcement of the lead roles. new cabinet Last week.
Haqqani Network is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the US and its chief Sirajuddin has been given the rank of? Acting Interior Minister Despite a $10 million bounty on his head by the FBI.
Baradar, who was one of the Supreme Leader’s three deputies and tipped to become the next prime minister, did not secure any major ministry.
He was also absent from the ministerial delegation that met Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in Kabul on Sunday.
The Afghanistan Analysts Network, the independent non-profit policy research and analysis organisation, also outlined that Akhundzada’s absence at all public events suggests that he may have died.
It was noted that the group’s one-eyed founder, Mullah Omar, also gave radio statements and interviews and met with foreign officials, even though not filmed or photographed.
“It would be strange, therefore, if Hebtollah, who is now in power in the movement, was alive and still so secluded. At the moment, he appears to be acting as a symbolic figure united without actually appearing or speaking. Maybe (as was also the case with Mullah Omar, who was cited as supreme leader for two years).
The Taliban admitted to hiding Omar’s death for more than two years, while official statements were issued in his name BBC. Omar died in Pakistan on 23 April 2013 due to illness but his statements continued until 2015.
The group said the news was suppressed because the end of 2014 was said to be the last year of operations by foreign forces in Afghanistan.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /