The Taliban have captured almost all of Afghanistan. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Vice President Amirullah Saleh have left the country. In such a situation, which Taliban leaders will now come to power in Afghanistan? The two names that are most discussed in answer to this question are Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Hibatullah Akhundzada.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is one of the four men who formed the Taliban in 1994. In 2001, when the Taliban was ousted from power in the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, he became the head of an insurgency against NATO forces. Later in February 2010, he was arrested from Karachi city of Pakistan in a joint operation by the US and Pakistan.
At that time, Baradar's name was prominent in the list of prisoners whom the Afghan government sought to release to promote peace talks. He was released by the Pakistani government in September 2013, but it was not clear whether he stayed in Pakistan or went elsewhere. Mullah Baradar was the most trusted soldier and deputy of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar. He was the second tallest leader of the Taliban when he was arrested.
Senior officials in the Afghan administration always believed that a leader of the stature of Baradar could persuade the Taliban to hold peace talks. In 2018, when the Taliban office opened to hold talks with the US in Qatar, he was made the head of the Taliban's political party.
After the formation of the Taliban in 1994, he took the role of commander and strategist. While Mullah Omar was alive, he was in charge of fundraising and day-to-day activities for the Taliban. He continued to play an important role on the side of the Taliban in all wars in Afghanistan and was particularly active in the Herat and Kabul regions. He was the deputy defense minister of the Taliban when the Taliban was removed from power.
At the time of his arrest, an Afghan official told, 'His wife is Mullah Omar's sister. He keeps track of all the money of the Taliban. He used to lead the most dreaded attacks against Afghan forces. Like other Taliban leaders, Mullah Baradar was also banned by the United Nations. There was a ban on their travel and the purchase of weapons.
On America's growing presence in Afghanistan, he said that the Taliban want to inflict heavy damage on America. He had said that our jihad will continue till the enemies are not eliminated from our land. According to Interpol, Mulla Baradar was born in 1968 in Vitmak village of Dehrawood district of Uruzgan province. It is believed that he belongs to the Durrani clan. Former President Hamid Karzai is also Durrani.
Hibatullah Akhundzada is the leader of the Afghan Taliban who is a scholar of Islam and comes from Kandahar. It is believed that he changed the direction of the Taliban and brought it to its present condition. His connection to Kandahar, a Taliban stronghold, helped him gain a grip on the Taliban.
In the 1980s, he served as a commander in Afghanistan's insurgency against the Soviet Union, but he is more of a religious scholar than a military commander. He was one of the top leaders of the Taliban even before becoming the head of the Afghan Taliban and he used to give orders related to the Taliban. He ordered the murder of those found guilty and those having illicit sex, and the beheading of the thefts.
Hibatullah was also the deputy of the former Taliban chief, Akhtar Mohammad Mansour. Mansoor was killed in a US drone strike in May 2016. Mansoor had declared Hibatullah as his heir in his will. It is believed that the top Taliban leaders whom Hibatullah met in Quetta, Pakistan, made him the head of the Taliban. According to the news agency AFP, the letter of will was to give legitimacy to his appointment. However, the Taliban had called his selection a unanimous decision.
Mullah Hibatullah, about sixty years old, has spent most of his life in Afghanistan. He also has close ties with the Shura of the Taliban in Quetta. The meaning of the name of Hibtullah is 'Gift from Allah'. He belongs to Noorzai clan.
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