Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar arrived in Kabul on Saturday for talks on establishing a new “inclusive” government in Afghanistan, a senior official said.
Other senior Taliban leaders seen in the capital in recent days include Khalil Haqqani — one of America’s most wanted terrorists with a $5 million bounty on his head.
Pro-Taliban social media feeds showed Haqqani meeting Gulbuddin Hekmatyar — a former bitter rival during the brutal civil war of the early 1990s, but still influential in Afghan politics.
A senior Taliban official told AFP that Baradar would meet “jihadi leaders and politicians for an inclusive government set-up”.
Read more: No democracy in Afghanistan: Taliban
Taliban rule to be “different” this time
Baradar arrived in Afghanistan last Tuesday from Qatar, choosing to touch down in the country’s second-biggest city Kandahar — the Taliban’s spiritual birthplace.
Within hours of his return, the group announced its rule would be “different” this time.
The Taliban have said they want this iteration of their government to be “inclusive”, but have given few details of who it would include.
Arrested in Pakistan in 2010, Baradar was in custody until pressure from the United States saw him freed in 2018 and relocated to Qatar.
Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar also announced his movement's victory.
“Now it's time to test and prove, now we have to show that we can serve our nation and ensure security and comfort of life,” he said. https://t.co/lozBsdM6ll
— Asad Ali Toor (@AsadAToor) August 16, 2021
He was appointed head of the Taliban’s political office in Doha, where he oversaw the signing of the agreement that led to the agreement for US forces to withdraw and end their 20-year campaign.
Talks underway after Taliban’s unopposed Kabul takeover
The Taliban scotched any hopes of a negotiated peace deal with the Afghan government by overrunning the country in under two weeks — a lightning offensive that ended with them taking Kabul unopposed last Sunday.
On Friday, Khalil Haqqani — the uncle of Taliban deputy leader Sirajuddin Haqqani — was seen leading prayers at a mosque in Kabul.
Read more: Comprehending a bleak picture of Afghanistan
Another key leader of the so-called Haqqani network — Anas Haqqani — was also in the capital and had met former president Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, who led the overall peace process for the previous administration.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk