Kabul – The Taliban are embroiled in a power struggle over control of the government. Pakistan is struggling to hand over the leadership of the Taliban government, in Afghanistan, to the Haqqani network instead of Mullah Baradar. Thus, on Saturday, Faiz Hamid, the head of Pakistan’s notorious ISI, arrived in Afghanistan. Outraged by Pakistan’s demand, Mullah Baradar withdrew his militia from fighting in Panjshir, claimed former Afghan MP Mariam Sulaimankhel.
In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said that establishing a government in Afghanistan had been completed and would be announced on Friday. In this government, Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada will hold the post of supreme religious leader, while Mullah Baradar, the second-in-command, will hold the presidency, Taliban sources said. Taliban leader Mullah Yaqub was said to have been given the Ministry of Defence and Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of the Haqqani Network, has been given internal security.
But the Haqqani network argued with the Baradar faction, saying the power-sharing was not acceptable. As a result, the announcement of government formation had to be postponed till Saturday. Under such circumstances, Faiz Hameed, the head of Pakistan’s ISI, arrived in Kabul on Saturday. Pakistani journalists claimed that Hamid had gone to Afghanistan at the invitation of the Taliban. But Mariam Sulaimankhel, a former Afghan lawmaker, accused the ISI chief of coming to Kabul, not at the invitation of the Taliban but to strengthen the Haqqani network’s claim.
The ISI chief was in Kabul to make sure that the leadership of the Afghan government would go to Haqqani and not to Mullah Baradar. The Taliban have been at loggerheads over the issue, with Baradar recalling his group from fighting the Northern Alliance in Panjshir, Mariam claimed.
Only Haqqani militants are now fighting the Northern Alliance in Panjshir, with Mullah Baradar withdrawing his militants. It has emerged that Pakistani soldiers are fighting for the Taliban as jihadists to support the Haqqani network. The Northern Alliance has released a video of the arrest of a Pakistan army soldier. The Northern Alliance also claims to have killed hundreds of Taliban militants in the conflict. But this could not be confirmed.
Some journalists in Afghanistan also are confirming Mariam Sulaimankhel’s allegations. ‘Our group captured the capital, Kabul, three weeks ago. Therefore, the Haqqani network claims to have the most power over the government,’ said one of the journalists. At the same time, the Haqqani network has made it clear that it will not allow Hazaras, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hindus and Sikhs to rule Afghanistan. Therefore, it is claimed that there is intense resentment in Mulla Baradar’s group. Also, some groups in the Taliban are unwilling to cut ties with Al Qaeda, as demanded by the United States and Western countries. This has also been the subject of controversy.
The Pakistani military is projecting a picture of the media under its control that the Taliban will soon form a government. But the events over the past two days have widened the gap within the Taliban. The Haqqani network has Pakistani influence and is based in Pakistan. But some groups within the Taliban do not trust the Haqqani network or Pakistan.
Meanwhile, a few days ago, Ned Price, US State Department spokesman said that the Taliban and the Haqqani network were two separate organizations. Therefore, it is difficult for the Haqqani network to obtain recognition from the United States and its allies. But it is the largest group in the Taliban, backed by Pakistan. That is why the Haqqani network seems to be challenging a senior Taliban leader like Mulla Baradar.