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The mystery of Taliban’s missing Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Baradar

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The mystery of missing Mullah Baradar deepens as it has now been over two weeks that he was last seen in Kabul

It has been more than two weeks since Mullah Baradar was last seen in Kabul when arguments broke out between the Taliban and Haqqani groups on who deserves the credit for victory and over the formation of the government.

Taliban co-founder Mullah Baradar believes that it was due to him and his team who brokered the deal with then US president Donald Trump that the Taliban was able to sweep into power.  But members of the Haqqani Network (HQN) claim that it was because of their military power that the Taliban could capture Afghanistan. And amid the claims and counter-claims a brawl started between the two groups led by Mullah Baradar and Khalil-ur-Rahman Haqqani respectively on September 4 in the Presidential palace in Kabul, according to BBC Pashto.

“After the incident, visibly upset and angry Mullah Baradar stormed out of the room and left for Kandahar to meet the Taliban supremo Akhund,” reports BBC Pashto quoting the sources.

According to the report, all top leaders were at a meeting over the formation of the new government. While Mullah Baradar wanted all his team members to be given the top posts. He also wanted that other ethnic representatives should be included. 

"They have gained a lot of experience over the last 20 years and the international community in Qatar's political office has promised to form a government that includes representatives of all nationalities, including women and minorities,” Baradar is reported to have said at the meeting.

But a few Taliban commanders including Mullah Yakub, son of the founder of the group Mullah Omar and the new defence minister  and Sirajdullah Haqqani, chief of Haqqani Network and the new interior minister were opposed to this proposal.

According to another report, Yakub said that those living in luxury in Doha cannot dictate terms to those involved in jihad against the US and the then Afghan government. The comment was an obvious reference to Mullah Baradar, Sher Mohammed Stanekzai and others who handled the political office of Taliban in Doha.

While Yakub believes that he is the “heir apparent” of the Taliban being the son of the founder Mullah Omar, Sirajuddin Haqqani wanted a lion’s share in the new government but agreed with Yakub that Baradar could not be the head of the government. According to sources, the clash broke out, both of them were present but did not try to defuse the situation.

An SoS was then sent to the Pakistani army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa and next morning the Director General of the ISI Lt Gen Faiz Hameed was in Kabul with a few senior generals and the Haqqani network took control over the formation of the new government.

Also Read: With Baradar out and unknown Mullah Hasan Akhund in, has Pakistan mounted a coup in Afghanistan?

Since then Baradar, the most prominent face of the Taliban, disappeared from public view. He was appointed the deputy prime minister but never came to his office. Rumours about a fallout have been spreading since last week. There was strong speculation and conspiracy theories on social media that he might have died after getting injured in the clash.

On Monday, Mohammad Naeem, the spokesperson of the Taliban government, had to issue an audio clip apparently of Mullah Baradar where he is saying that he was touring, and news about his death is simply a rumour.

Another spokesperson told the BBC that Baradar had gone to Kandahar to meet the Taliban's supreme leader, but later told BBC Pashto that he was "tired and wanted some rest".

The Taliban have a history of not disclosing the deaths of their top leaders. The death of founding leader Mullah Mohammad Omar was kept a closely guarded secret for two years and, during that time, the Taliban continued to issue statements in his name. Despite the promises made by the Taliban, the supremo of the group and head of the council Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, has not been seen in public since the group captured the country.

Also Read: Taliban says Mullah Baradar is alive, but social media says the Haqqanis killed him