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.
Advisor to Prime Minster (PM) on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said on Friday that confirmation of Mullah Omar’s death has been verified via different sources including Afghan Taliban, reported Dunya News.
The Taliban announcement also said Sirajuddin Haqqani, believed to be in his late 30s or early 40s, will serve as one of the two deputy leaders of the Islamic insurgent group.
In an apparent damage-control measure, the Taliban leadership shura was hurriedly convened to nominate the Taliban’s once-upon-a-time civil aviation minister and Omar’s deputy, Akhar Muhammad Mansoor, as the new ameer – also a tacit acknowledgement that the supreme leader is no more.
In an email to journalists, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said Omar had “abandoned this mortal world” as the result of an illness. Last week, Feday-e-Mahaz, a breakaway Taliban faction, posted a statement on its Facebook page saying that “the whereabouts of Mullah Omar is known to everyone, and his grave is in Zabul, may his soul rest in peace“.
“There has always been Mullah Omar“. He has a U.S. bounty of $10 million on his head as a leader of the brutal and extremist Haqqani network, which is allied with al Qaeda. If the Afghan government is correct that Omar had died in a hospital in the Pakistani city of Karachi more than a year earlier, Zawahiri made that pledge to a dead man. That would suggest “that Zawahiri was either ignorant or duplicitous, neither of which will endear him to his followers”, said intelligence consultancy The Soufan Group, in a recent analysis. He had not been seen in public since fleeing when the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001 after s U.S.-led invasion.
The second round of Afghan-Taliban talks had few surprises.
Pakistan cited reports of Omar’s death as the reason for the delay in negotiations, amid fears they could trigger a potentially bloody succession battle and further deepen divisions within the militant movement.
Afghan officials met Taliban cadres this month in Murree, a holiday town in the hills north of the Pakistani capital Islamabad, for their first face-to-face talks aimed at ending the bloody insurgency.
“If he gets the credibility, it might not be such bad news to have Mansour replace the invisible Mullah Omar“, Dam said.
Rivals likely to vie for influence include Mullah Omar’s son, Yacoub, who reportedly walked out of a meeting about the succession in anger, and former military leader Abdul Qayum Zakir.
The Taliban has failed to morph into a political entity in 21 years of its existence, and most certainly, would not be able to do so after Mullah Omar.
With Pakistan and its Taliban proxies check-mated, the Afghan government has a historic opportunity in its hands that President Dr. Ashraf Ghani simply can not afford to squander.
Peace talks between the Taliban and the current Afghanistan government, due to be held in and mediated by neighboring Pakistan, have been postponed indefinitely in the meantime.
High Peace Council officials said ahead of the slated second round of talks that the Afghan government would be calling for a ceasefire as a show of sincerity from the Taliban.