Taliban’s chief negotiator re-signs as leadership row deepens

ISLAMABAD: The head of Taliban’s politi-cal office in Qatar, Sayed Tayyeb Agha, re-signed late on Monday over the appointment of the militant organisation’s new chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.

Agha, who was a close confidant of Mullah Omar, said he would no longer represent the Taliban political office but would remain a member of the Taliban movement.

“I have decided to step down as head of the political office of the Islamic Emirate, because my political role has come to an end. I will not be part of any decision and statements of the Islamic Emirate Taliban,” he said.

In a statement issued late on Monday night, Agha op-posed the election of the new chief ‘outside Afghanistan’ and said the new leader of the ‘Islamic Emirate’ should have been elected among the Taliban fighters and in the bunkers.

Agha also regretted the leadership’s decision to keep news of Mullah Omar’s death a secret. He said he had insisted at times to receive “verbal instructions from Mullah Omar” but rejecting his requests, the leaders would say there was no need for them.

The resignation comes at a time when splits among the Taliban are apparent over the election of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor as Mullah Omar’s successor. Mullah Omar’s son Mullah Yaqub and several other top leaders and council members are unhappy with the decision to name Man-soor as supreme leader.

Taliban officials told The Express Tribune that Agha had never been on good terms with Mansoor even during Mullah Omar’s life.

Earlier, the Taliban office in Doha distanced itself from the Pakistan-brokered peace talks.

The Taliban representatives met face-to-face with Afghan government officials in Murree on July 7. According to Taliban sources, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor had approved the talks. However, in his first audio after assuming the role as Taliban chief, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor cast doubts on peace talks after he said, “Peace talks are the enemy’s propaganda.”

Agha’s resignation could further complicate the fragile peace process.

The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has also joined the dissident Afghan Taliban in rejecting Mullah Mansoor’s election with a commander saying they were not consulted on the matter.

On Monday, the TTP expressed disappointment over the election of Mullah Mansoor as the new Afghan Taliban chief. “The way he has been elected is unacceptable to us. We were not consulted,” a TTP leader said requesting not to be identified.

Mullah Mansoor was chosen to replace Mullah Omar days after the death of the Taliban creator was officially confirmed by the Afghan Taliban on July 30.

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