Taliban military chief held after secret talks with Afghan envoys

The head of Taliban's military council is to be tried by the jihadist group for having engaged in unauthorised negotiations with Afghanistan's Higher Peace Council, intelligence sources have told The Hindu.

Maulvi Muhammad Ismail was held by the Taliban in early April, two weeks after he returned to Pakistan after a meeting with envoys from the Higher Peace Council in the United Arab Emirates. His secret negotiations with Kabul, the sources said, may have led the Taliban to stage Sunday's attacks in Kabul — unprecedented in their scale — to warn against future attempts to infiltrate its ranks.

Few details were available on Mr. Ismail's arrest, which was impossible to independently verify. Military sources in Kabul, however, said he was replaced by Mullah Nasir, earlier the head of Taliban operations in Ghazni. Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, the sources alleged, had unearthed Mr. Ismail's negotiation efforts, and insisted that the Taliban crack down on it.

Taliban negotiations with the United States in Doha broke down after a stalemate developed over the release of five prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay. The Taliban negotiation team is made up of Tayyab Agha, Abbas Stanikzai and Shahabuddin Delawari, who moved to Doha from Pakistan in 2010.

However, the Higher Peace Council envoys have continued to reach out to Taliban commanders operating inside Afghanistan. Afghan politicians have blamed the ISI for not allowing their efforts to come to fruition. In a report issued, the International Crisis Group said Pakistani hardliners see “victory for their Afghan proxies” as imminent. “This contributes greatly to Kabul's lack of progress in talks with the insurgents,” the ICG stated.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 1:30:47 AM |

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