Now the new elected leader Mansoor has been given the same respect as Mullah Omar.
But Mullah Mansoor is said to be close to Pakistani authorities, who in recent months have moved to improve relations with Afghanistan and who hosted peace talks between the government and the Taliban earlier this month. It is widely believed that Omar fled over the border to Pakistan, where he lived under Pakistani protection until his death.
Haqqani had for years been bed-ridden by illness, leaving his son Sirajuddin to take command of the group, which was based in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal area until a Pakistani anti-militant army operation began there last year.
Afghan officials also said they received no help from Pakistan, which had long sheltered and aided the Taliban.
The Taliban warned IS recently against expanding in the region, but this has not stopped some fighters, inspired by the group’s success, defecting to swear allegiance to IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi instead of the invisible Mullah Omar.
“Actually, it wasn’t a Taliban Leadership Council meeting”.
While the future of the peace process, which is a priority for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, is uncertain, the ministry added that “Afghanistan believes that in the current situation, peace negotiations are (more) possible than any time before”.
Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, the newly named chief of the Taliban.
Haseeb Sediqi, spokesman for Afghanistan’s intelligence service, said Wednesday that Omar had died in a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan, in April 2013.
The election, which was reported yesterday, has not been officially confirmed by the Taliban.
“That means that Mullah Mansour may have spent most of the past two years deceiving his fellow insurgents by claiming to pass on orders and messages from Mullah Omar“, it cited officials as saying.
The series of moves, which also included strengthening ties with a militant faction with al-Qaida links, pointed to possible rifts within the Taliban and a potential major blow to hopes for negotiating an end Afghanistan’s 14-year conflict.
The Tolonews website runs a story on its front page reporting about news of the death of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar in Kabul May 23, 2011.
Despite the opposition, Mansour retains a personal power base within the Taliban, and if he can keep the movement together it could lead to a new era for the insurgents.
Born in the same southern province, Kandahar, some time in the early 1960s, Mansour was part of the movement from the start and has effectively been in charge since 2013, according to Taliban sources. It is also crucial that regional and global, particularly the U.S., support to the Afghanistan Government and the Afghan National Security Forces continues uninterrupted at this critical juncture without the straightjacket of withdrawal timetables and troops numbers over at least the next three to five years.
He faces a huge challenge in trying to unite a movement that is showing signs of fragmenting and questions about his legitimacy at the highest echelon of the Taliban will not bolster his position.