London/Kabul – The rift within the Taliban on government formation is quite evident to the world. Since few days, international media are claiming Mullah Baradar and his supporters to have distanced themselves from the Taliban. Mullah Baradar has distanced himself due to the dominance of the Haqqani Network, a Pakistan designated terrorist group in the proposed Afghanistan government. The split in the Taliban on government formation is the biggest challenge faced by Taliban after taking over Afghanistan. The brewing internal conflict is likely to provoke a fierce conflict between the two factions of Taliban.
Reports of split in the Taliban have surfaced since the government announcement last week. Also, clashes broke out between Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Khalil Ur-Rehman Haqqani of the Haqqani Network at the presidential residence in Kabul. There were reports of Mullah Baradar being seriously injured or dead. Subsequently, the absence of Mullah Baradar and his close associates in various meetings held in Kabul was conspicuous over the past ten days.
In a meeting with the Foreign Minister of Qatar, all the commanders of the Haqqani network were present except Baradar. Therefore, the claims of Mullah Baradar being dead gained attention. However, two days ago, the Taliban released Baradar’s audio, assuring the Taliban’s co-founder and second-in-command to be alive. Taliban spokesmen clarified on having no rift or differences among themselves. By now, disagreement over the government formation leading to a bitter feud between Mulla Baradar and Khalil Haqqani is evident.
A Taliban source revealed the clashes at the presidential residence between supporters of Baradar and Khalil during an argument between the two leaders. After the clash, Mulla Baradar left in rage with his supporters from Kabul and moved to Kandahar. Baradar has been in Kandahar for the past week and has stopped communication with Kabul. Baradar is also claimed to have boycotted Taliban meetings.
For the past few years, Mullah Baradar has been leading the Taliban in the negotiations at Doha and has contacted US leaders. It is alleged that Baradar, who has distanced himself from the Taliban, is in touch with the United States. According to some media agencies, Baradar has accused the proposed government in Afghanistan of not abiding by the Doha agreement. Therefore, the differences between the Baradar and the Taliban is significant and notable.
Kandahar province is considered the birthplace and power centre of the Taliban. The province is dominated by a group led by Mullah Yaqoob, son of Mullah Omar, Founder of the Taliban. Baradar and Yaqoob are said to have an excellent relationship. Earlier, a US study group had highlighted the animosity between Mullah Yaqoob and the Haqqani network. The US study group had warned that the enmity between the two groups could lead to a new civil war in Afghanistan. In such a scenario, the power struggle between Baradar and the Haqqani network has raised the possibility of a fierce conflict erupting between two or more groups within the Taliban.