News - Afghanistan
Senior members of the Taliban are reportedly holding open meetings in Pakistan to discuss the disputed appointment of Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour as the group's new chief in the wake Mullah Omar's death.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, while confirming Mullah Omar's death, in a statement earlier this month announced that Mullah Mansour would be the successor to the late supreme leader and original founder of the group. The Afghan government has maintained Omar died two years ago at a hospital in Pakistan's port city of Karachi.
Several top Taliban leaders have expressed strong opposition to Mansour's leadership, calling him a puppet of Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI).
Sources within the Afghan government told TOLOnews on condition of anonymity on Thursday that scores of Taliban members - including both those who agree and disagree with Mansour's appointment - met with clerics in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan on Wednesday to resolve the dispute over Omar's successor.
The names of those within the Taliban who are said to endorse Mansour's leadership are as follows: Mawlavi Abdul Kabir, Abdul Hassan Akhund, Mohammad Rassoul Akhund, Abdul Latif, Mansour Ibrahim Sadar, Abdul Rashid Shinwari, Abbas Akhund, Mohammad Essa Akhund, Mawlavi Abdul Rahim, Mawlavi Abdul Nabi, Mawlavi Mohammad Reza, Mawlavi Mohammad Nadim, Shahabuddin Dilawar, Mawlavi Jan Mohammad, Qazi Din Mohammad, Mawlavi Nek Mohammad and Mohammad Zahir Ahmadzai.
Meanwhile, the list of those thought to disagree with Mansour's appointment is also extensive: Mohammad Yaqoub (Mullah Omar's eldest son), Abdul Manan (Mullah Omar's brother), Abdul Raziq Akhund, Abdul Mobin Akhund, Mohammad Hassan Rahmani, Abdul Raouf Akhund, Abdul Bari Akhund, Abdul Rahman Zahid, Anwar-ul-Haq Mujahid, Mansour Dadullah, Mawlavi Hamza, Abdul Manan Niazi, Abdul Qayoum Zakir, Zabihullah, Mawlavi Shireen, Mohammad Akhtar Mohammadzai, Gull Pacha Amiri and Janan Haq Parast.
Some political analysts, meanwhile, have said the Pakistani government is seeking to exploit divisions within the Taliban's ranks.
"It has always been said that Pakistan is using the Taliban leaders as a tool, and now this issue, once again, has been raised after the Taliban overtly began their activities and movement in Pakistan," political commentator Javed Kohistani said.
Other commentators believe the recent Taliban gathering in Pakistan is evidence of Pakistani clerics' attempt to stop the group from splintering.
"There were the same issues during Jihad; when the Mujahideen divided into many groups, Pakistan brought all of them to one table," National Solidarity Movement leader Sayed Ishaq Gilani told TOLOnews. "Now the same thing is happening to the Taliban; Pakistani clerics are trying to use the group as a tool."
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