Kabul, Aug 03: Taliban co-founder Mullah Baradar will lead a new Afghan government that could be announced soon, sources in the Islamist group said on Friday, as it battled rebel fighters while striving to ward off economic collapse.
Who is Mullah Baradar?
Abdul Ghani Baradar, better known as Mullah Baradar, was brought up in Kandahar, which is known as the birthplace of the Taliban movement. Having lived a life forever altered by the Soviet invasion in the late 1970s, Baradar grew up to become an insurgent.
It is believed that he fought side-by-side with the one-eyed cleric Mullah Omar during the Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s.
He held senior positions in the Taliban during their rule from 1996 to 2001. After the Taliban government fell to the US-led invasion in 2001, he rose to lead the organization’s Quetta Shura in Pakistan, becoming the de facto leader of the Taliban.
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He was imprisoned by Pakistan in 2010, possibly because he had been discussing a peace deal with the Afghan government secretly, without the involvement of Pakistan. He was released in 2018 at the request of the United States and was subsequently appointed a deputy leader of the Taliban and head of their political office.
Baradar is the only surviving Taliban leader to have been personally appointed deputy by the late Taliban commander Mullah Mohammed Omar, giving Baradar near-legendary status within the movement.
Baradar was appointed a deputy to the supreme leader of the Taliban and the chief of the Taliban’s political office in Doha, Qatar, in January 2019, about three months after Pakistan released him. He is the most senior of three deputies to the leader, the other two being Sirajuddin Haqqani and Mohammad Yaqoob.
In February 2020, Baradar signed the Doha Agreement on the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan on behalf of the Taliban.
On 17 August 2021, Baradar returned to Afghanistan for the first time since the fall of the first Taliban government in 2001. It was rumoured that he will become the president of Afghanistan following the overthrow of the government of Ashraf Ghani by the Taliban in August 2021. On 23 August 2021, CIA Director William J. Burns held a secret meeting with Baradar in Kabul to discuss the August 31 deadline for a U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Story first published: Friday, September 3, 2021, 13:24 [IST]