Taliban appoint new central council, ousting dissidents
A meeting, chaired by Taliban’s supreme leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor last week, named Abas Stanikzai as head of Taliban’s political office in Qatar and Mullah Abdul Salam Hanafi as his deputy.
Previously, the Taliban’s Doha office was headed by Mullah Mohammad Omar’s spokesman Tayeb Agha, but he resigned the position after the disclosure of Omar’s death in August.
A well-placed source confided to Pajhwok Afghan News Sheikh Mohammad Sharif (Tajik), Mullah Abdul Rahman (Uzbek), Mullah Abdul Salam Hanafi (Uzbek) and Mullah Abdul Rasheed (Turkmen) replaced former members of the council.
They have replaced Mullah Razzaq, Mullah Rahmani and Mullah Mohammad Rasul Akhund, who opposed Mansoor’s ascendancy to the top slot in the wake of Mullah Omar’s demise.
Hanafi was deputy minister of education while Rasheed served as chancellor of a university during Taliban’s rule, which came to an end in 2001 as a result of a sustained American-led bombing campaign.
Mullah Yaqub, son of Mullah Mohammad Omar, has been appointed as an honorary member of the Shura (council), the source said. After recent attacks and clashes in the north, the Taliban reshuffled their governors, security chiefs and commanders.
Another insider disclosed the meeting decided to re-establish contract with Afghan figures and representatives of the international community. The process of meetings at their Qatar office would resume soon, he suggested.
The participants supported direct contacts with the US and its international allies instead of meeting the Afghan government representatives, he said.
Pakistan had constantly been mounting pressure on the insurgent movement to enter reconciliation parleys with the Afghan government, the Taliban source acknowledged.
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