Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the new head of Taliban’s Qatar office and the third deputy head of Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, the leader of the group, will join his fellow Taliban members as part of the current talks team, sources from inside the Taliban said.
Mullah Baradar was appointed as new head of Qatar office and deputy head of Akhundzada on January 24.
In addition to Akhundzada, Taliban’s leadership team has also changed the heads of 13 military and non-military commissions of the group.
The new changes in the group’s management body have been made for the sake of strengthening Taliban’s political team leading the talks with the US, sources from inside Taliban added.
“The new members have been appointed in a bid to show to the world that they are ready for peace talks. Also, with this, Taliban wants to prove that they are about to be considered a political power,” Mahmood Rahin, a university lecturer said.
Based on the new changes, Mawlawi Abdul Kabir, 60, has been appointed as head of Taliban’s recruitment commission.
During Taliban regime, Kabir was a member of Taliban’s political committee and governor of eastern Nangarhar province. But in recent years, he has not had any specific responsibility.
Mullah Faizullah Akhund, who was a deputy to former Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, has been appointed as head of Taliban’s health committee for the western zone of the country.
Other figures have been appointed as heads of the 13 commissions.
“The appointment of these people in important posts means that they want to show that they have some trained people. While this group has groups of talented young people, they use the newlyappointed people to move forward systematically and based on plans. Also, the new appointments carry another message which indicates that Taliban will return and will come into power,” Faiz Mohammad Zaland, a university lecturer said.
Sources meanwhile said among those newly appointed Taliban members, there are people who have served for years in Guantanamo prison.
A number of former Taliban members said the new figures will play a dominant role in the peace talks.
“Among military and non-military Taliban, Mullah Baradar’s popularity is high. I think this is a good chance for peace talks,” Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban member said.
“These changes are good for peace talks. I think all these people love the country and are committed to the national interests,” Hassan Haqyar, a political analyst said.
Sources from inside Taliban said Mullah Baradar will soon join peace talks. His role, however, is seen as crucial in peace talks by officials and analysts.
Remarks over Baradar joining the talks come amid positive developments between US officials and Taliban representatives in Qatar over the past week.
Sources familiar with the Doha talks have said that on the fifth day of the US-Taliban discussions in Qatar on Friday, US officials agreed to a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The sources also said that Taliban has agreed to not let al Qaida and Daesh operate in Afghanistan.
The sources added that US officials have asked for a ceasefire but Taliban has demanded a timeline be drawn up for the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan before agreeing to this.
Taliban said they first want to be assured by the US that there will be no threat to regional countries especially Pakistan and then a ceasefire will take place, the sources said.
In these talks, the sources said, US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad asked Taliban to hold talks with the Afghan government and said the talks should be aimed at reforms and not for a demand by the Taliban to control Afghanistan.
However, according to the sources, Taliban has not responded to this call by Khalilzad.
Based on unconfirmed reports, Taliban’s representatives will visit Kabul soon to talk with the Afghan government.