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Who Is Sheikh Haibatullah Akhundzada? Taliban’s Top Religious Leader Likely To Be Named Supreme



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New Delhi: Seizing control of Afghanistan in mid-August, the Taliban are expected to announce the newly-formed government that is likely to be helmed by the insurgent group’s top spiritual leader Sheikh Haibatullah Akhundzada.

Mufti Inamullah Samangani, a senior official in the Taliban’s information and culture commission, said the consultations are almost finalised on the new government.

READ: Qatar Helping Taliban To Make Kabul Airport Operational ‘As Soon As Possible’

Samangani added the necessary discussions have also been held about the Cabinet.

He said the group is all set to announce the formation of the new government in Kabul in the next three days.

60-year-old Mullah Akhundzada will in the new set-up be the Supreme Leader of the Taliban government, which will follow the pattern of the Iranian leadership, PTI reported.

Samangani said Mullah Akhunzada will be the leader of the government and indicated that the President will work under his oversight.

He further said the governors will control the provinces, while the district governors will be in-charge of their respective districts under the new governmental set-up,.

He added the name of the new governance system, the national flag and the national anthem are yet to be finalised.

Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, deputy leader of the Taliban political office in Doha, on Thursday said that Mullah Akhunzada will monitor the government from Kandahar, the stronghold of the Taliban movement.

“Any person who was part of any former Afghanistan governments during the last 20 years will not be included in the new Taliban administration,” he said.

Stanikzai said the Taliban want to have friendly relations with the European Union, the US and India, adding the members of the Taliban political office in Doha are in close contact with different foreign countries.

Mullah Akhunzada, who belongs to the Noorzai clan that is considered to be the most powerful tribe among Pashtuns, has been serving at a mosque in Kachlaak area of Balochistan province for 15 years.

He joined the Taliban in the 1990s. Mullah Akhunzada’s first major government role was in 1995, when the group had captured Afghanistan’s Farah province. 

Before being elevated as the chief of the military court in the Nangarhar province in the previous Taliban regime, he held a position in the military court of the Taliban in Kandahar.

Mullah Akhunzada had risen to the rank of deputy chief within the group’s Supreme Court before the US backed forces overthrew the Taliban from power in 2001. He became the head of their council of religious leaders during the exile after 2001.

Mullah Akhunzada was appointed as a deputy in 2015 by the then Taliban chief Mullah Mansour in the group’s hierarchy.

ALSO READ: Not Engaging With Taliban Will Give Space To Terrorist Organisations: Pak Foreign Minister Qureshi

He took over as the Supreme leader of the Taliban after his predecessor was killed in a US drone strike in 2016.

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