A relatively lesser known Taliban leader, Mullah Hassan Akhund, seen as a “lightweight” and who is on a UN terror list, could be the unlikely choice as the next Prime Minister of Afghanistan as a compromise candidate between rival factions of the Taliban.
Disagreements between the extremist group’s multiple factions have so far stymied government formation in the war-torn nation. Kabul fell to Taliban three weeks ago.
The main contenders for power, whose struggles have delayed the announcement of a new regime, include the Doha unit of the Taliban headed by Mullah Baradar, the Haqqani Network, a semi-independent terror outfit that operates in eastern Afghanistan, and the Kandahar faction of the Taliban.
Under the new formula, Mullah Baradar and Mullah Omar’s son Mullah Yakub are likely to serve as Mullah Akhund’s deputies. Siraj Haqqani, of the Haqqani Network, and also on global terror lists, may be picked to head the powerful interior ministry — equivalent to India’s home ministry — sources said.
Taliban’s top cleric, the shadowy leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, will likely be the “Supreme Leader”.
Mullah Hassan Akhund, the PM-in-waiting heads Taliban’s leadership council, the “Rehbari Shura” and has served as a minister in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan before the war with the US started in 2001.
There is speculation that the consensus was arrived at during Pakistan military intelligence ISI chief’s stay in Kabul last week. Faiz Hameed is now back in Islamabad.
The prospective outline of the new regime has thrown up questions about Taliban’s commitment to its own promise of an inclusive government.
There appears no role for former leaders of the country – including former President Hamid Karzai and former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah – despite their holding talks with the Taliban after it captured Kabul.