Taliban council to select top leader

Islamabad, Aug 19 (IANS) After failed talks last month at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan, the Taliban Reconciliation Council will meet on Thursday to select a new leader, a media report said on Wednesday.

Many Taliban factions, in addition to Al Qaeda chief Aymen Al Zawahiri, pledged support to Mullah Akhtar Mansoor — who took over after Mullah Omar’s death was announced. But his candidature was challenged by Mullah Yaqoob, the eldest son of the former leader, and by Mullah Omar’s brother Haji Abdul Mannan with the former laying claim to the Taliban leadership, The News International reported.

According to a source, a 17-member Ulema council was unable to resolve the matter despite multiple attempts to reach out to Akhtar Mansoor.

Attempts to reach out to Akhtar Mansoor were even made through his deputy Haibatullah Akhunzada as well as through Khalifa Haqqani, son of Haqqani militant group leader Jalaluddin Haqqani — but no positive response was received.

The source added that the council has been entrusted the task of resolving the issue. The reconciliation council will meet again on Thursday to sort out the matter between the two contending parties which have pledged to accept the council’s decision.

However, according to the source, if the council selects Mullah Omar’s son Mullah Yaqoob as the new chief it is possible the Taliban will split into two factions.

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