A former Taliban member who joined the peace process five years ago is now serving as head of the Hajj and Religious Affairs Directorate in the southern province of Kandahar.
Mawlawi Manzoor Ahmad Husaini had different roles as the Taliban-designated security chief in Badghis, head of military commission in the western zone, and head of the Olympic committee during the group’s regime in Kabul.
Husaini took up arms while at a madrassa and fought in different parts of the country until he joined the peace process.
He had close relations with Taliban leaders during the group's beginnings and was assigned in different posts during the Taliban regime and after their fall in 2001.
“When I observed the situation in which our good elders were martyred in prison or were imprisoned for life, and also when I observed the crisis and the conflict, I saw it was in my favor to come and serve the people from within, and for my grave to be made in my ancestral cemetery,” Husaini said.
The former Taliban member said that after the fall of the Taliban regime, he traveled to various countries to revive the Taliban.
He said main reason for his distance from the Taliban was an internal rift.
“I have the capacity to stop banned activities and bring reform with my words,” he said.
Local officials in Kandahar said they hope the new appointment will help in confidence-building in the peace efforts.
“We call on all our brothers to come and cooperate with us in the government and avoid violence. We are all one nation, all Afghans, and we should work together,” said the Taliban deputy governor Faisal Shirzai.
“Nothing will go ahead when there is violence and killing and crisis in this nation,” said Mawlawi Ahmad, a religious scholar.
Husaini has lived in Kandahar with his family for the last five years. He said that now is the time to end the war and work together for peace.