US lauds Pakistan’s role in Afghan reconciliation process

The commanders said the long-time deputy of the deceased Mullah Omar was elected at a shura or meeting of top Taliban representatives just outside the Pakistani city of Quetta where many of them are based, Reuters reports.


The news of Mullah Omar’s death sparked a leadership contest that many feared could create disunity within the group, potentially affecting the outcome of recently opened peace talks.

Mullah Mansoor, thought to be aged between 50 and 52, was previously the aviation and transport minister during the Taliban regime, which controlled most of Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001. He has been given the title of “The Leader of the faithful”.

The Taliban also announced his deputies – Sirajuddin Haqqani, who leads the Taliban-allied Haqqani network and has a $10 million US bounty on his head, and Haibatullah Akhundzada, the former head of the Taliban courts.

Whether Pakistan had indeed shared the highly classified information with President Ghani, whom it began to trust after more than a decade of misgivings with the Afghan leadership, chiefly Hamid Karzai, is not known, or probably may never be known.

The Taliban is already split between senior figures who support talks with Kabul to end the 13-year war and those who want to continue to fight for power.

Reports of Mullah Omar’s death and the search for a successor have centered on two competing commanders: Mansur and Mullah Omar’s eldest son, Mullah Mohammad Yuqub.

The Taliban’s first handover of power comes at a time when the US-led Afghan government has been trying to jumpstart peace negotiations as it struggles to contain the resurgent insurgency.

The Afghan government said it regretted the postponement of the second formal face-to-face meeting with the Taliban. Hunted from the war’s outset, Mullah Omar had not been seen in public since late 2001, when he fled underground without leaving any official photograph and not releasing no videos or audio messages in the years that followed.

Although the Taliban said Omar had died of an illness, a rival militant faction accused Mansour and another aide of murdering him.

However, the Washington Post, citing diplomatic and intelligence documents, reported that the CIA had a lead on the reclusive Omar’s whereabouts several times in 2010 and 2011, always placing him in Pakistan.

Yacoob said that all Taliban commanders should have been included in the vote for Mullah Omar’s replacement. At a young age, he joined the Mullah Haji Mohammad group during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.

Preparations had been under way for the next round of talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, provisionally planned for Thursday or Friday in a location yet to be confirmed.

Taliban attacks against Afghan officials and forces have intensified with their annual warm-weather offensive.

“[Our] political office, are not aware of any such process”.

American officials said they had long ago come to believe that Mullah Omar’s role in the insurgency was primarily spiritual, and that he had little to no operational control over the Taliban.

The insurgents seized a police base in the northern province of Badakshan on Sunday after more than 100 policemen surrendered, inflicting one of the heaviest blows to Afghan forces since the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation combat mission ended in December.


They had agreed to meet again in the coming weeks, drawing global praise, and Afghan officials had pledged to press for a ceasefire in the second round.

Taliban appoint new leader as family of former commander Mullah Omar say he