Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul to hammer out govt

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ISLAMABAD: Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar arrived in Kabul on Saturday to join negotiations with the Afghan and insurgent leaders. “Talks for an interim government have been going on between the insurgents and Afghan politicians led by former president Hamid Karzai and former foreign minister and Afghanistan chief executive Abdullah Abdullah since the fall of Kabul after lightning advances by Taliban fighters a few days ago. The negotiations are going on right now,” Ahmadullah Waseq, deputy of the Taliban’s cultural affairs committee, was quoted as saying.
In Kabul, Taliban sources said, Baradar would meet jihadi leaders and other politicians ahead of meeting Karzai and Abdullah. Baradar is the only surviving Taliban leader to have been personally appointed deputy by the slain Taliban chief Mullah Omar. According to Taliban sources, an announcement about the new government would be made after August 31 following the expiry of the deadline for a pullout of American troops from Afghanistan.
Without a functional government in Afghanistan for a week, uncertainty prevails in Kabul. Desperate people are trying to flee the country while many remain trapped in their homes hoping for a miracle. The scene at Kabul airport is chaotic and there are growing fears of a return to the repressive 1996-2001 regime of the Taliban. Banks and government departments have been shut for seven days in a row and people in Kabul and in other cities are facing a shortage of funds and food.
Baradar had arrived in Kandahar from Qatar last week. Within hours of his return, the Taliban announced its rule would be “different” this time. He had been appointed head of the Taliban’s political office in Doha after his release from a Karachi prison in 2018. Last year, he had struck a peace agreement with the Trump administration, paving the way for a US troop pullout from Afghanistan. The Taliban’s supreme leader, Maulvi Haibatullah Akhunzada, is believed to be hiding in Pakistan and only releases occasional statements.
Baradar’s arrival in Kabul came as Western countries raced to evacuate diplomats from Kabul amid chaotic scenes at the airport. In its advisory on its website, the US embassy in Afghanistan warned on Saturday of “potential security threats outside the gates” of the airport.
Barardar’s entry into Kabul was preceded by meetings of other senior Taliban leaders, including Khalil Haqqani and his nephew Anas Haqqani, with Afghan politicians. Khalil, with a $5 million US bounty on his head, was pictured among crowds in the Afghan capital on Friday, flanked by armed men dressed in military uniforms. He had also addressed worshippers and led Friday prayers in Kabul while holding a gun. Earlier this week, Abdullah Abdullah had posted photos of Karzai and himself meeting Haqqani and his Taliban delegation. Khalil Haqqani is the brother of Jalaluddin Haqqani, founder of the Haqqani network and the uncle of the Taliban’s deputy leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani. The Haqqani network has been credited with some of the most violent attacks against US, Nato and Afghan forces in recent years.
Pro-Taliban social media feeds showed that Khalil Haqqani had also met Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a warlord and influential figure in Afghan politics leading the Hizb-e-Islami party. Hekmatyar has been known as the “Butcher of Kabul” for his brutal massacres and destruction in Kabul during civil war of the early 1990s.
The Taliban claim they are seeking to form an “inclusive, Islamic” government despite reports of atrocities carried out across the country. In recent days, former government officials spoke of hiding from the militants as gunmen went from door to door. While the Taliban have broadly announced the parameters of their new government, it is unclear what kind of system they are going to introduce in the country.

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