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June 26, 2019
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What is going on across and along Pakistan’s north-western borders

Taliban’s top leader Mullah Mansour’s death in a drone strike has created another leadership crisis for Taliban, though they were quick to announce that Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada has been appointed as their new leader.

The succession of Mullah Mansour as Taliban’s Ameer after the death of Mullah Omar was also not very smooth and it is unlikely that Akhundzada would be able to assert his supremacy across the organization of Taliban, which is essentially a con-federal structure. The reported infighting during the recent past and the emergence of Daish Khurasan attracting cadres from within Taliban indicate what is going on across and along Pakistan’s north-western borders.

Another extraordinary development in Afghanistan is the recent deal between Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e-Islami and the Afghan government…

Hezb, with a strong presence in all Pashtun provinces as well as some key areas in the northern Afghanistan, was the pioneer of resistance against Kabul’s puppet communist regime of USSR in early 1970s. It was Pakistan’s then Prime Minister Z.A. Bhutto (not General Ziaul Haq as commonly believed) who realized their importance first and started supporting them to counter the terrorist activities of anti-state nationalist elements in Pakistan which were funded and facilitated by President Daud of Afghanistan. When USSR invaded Afghanistan, Hezb was the largest organization to offer resistance against the Red Army.

The mysterious creation of Taliban in late-1990s – much after the fall of Kabul – and their extremist rule destroyed the face of Afghan jihad. They mercilessly targeted not only the Kabul regime, their opponents and general population but also the other mujahideen groups including Hezb-e-Islami that did not accepted the supremacy of their leader Mullah Omar and believed in the future of Afghanistan as an Islamic republic.

Taliban are, and will remain, a potent force in Afghanistan for the years to come, however, in the long run, if Hezb-e-Islami is properly mainstreamed and is given the opportunity to play its due role, their position would possibly weaken.

It is also important that the solution for long term peace is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. Unless US does not withdraw its forces from Afghanistan it is unlikely to happen.

A lot now depends on President Ghani’s government and how it deals with the changing dynamics.

Naufil Shahrukh is a knowledge worker based in Islamabad, Pakistan. He can be reached at [email protected]