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In the art of mind- games, Taliban make another deft move by embracing Ashraf Ghani’s brother

Hashmat Ghani, brother of former President Ashraf Ghani

In the art of mind-games, the Taliban has made another  deft move, co-opting the brother of deposed President Ashraf Ghani, into its fold.

Hashmat Ghani Ahmadzai,  has joined the Taliban- a move meant to sow discord and demoralise Afghani troops, who might be planning to regroup to mount a riposte against the Taliban. Two of Ghani’s top commanders have joined the New Northern Alliance, marshalled from the Panjsher valley by Ahmad Massood and acting President Amrullah Saleh. Several Afghan army troops have also fled to neighbouring Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, which could become springboards for a rear-guard action in the future.

"Hashmat Ghani, brother of former President Ashraf Ghani, pledges allegiance to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan with the help of Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani [nephew of the leader of the Haqqani network]," says the tweet, while a photo attached to it shows Hashmat Ghani shaking hands with Talibs.

The Taliban are also reaching out to the Panjshiri leadership, with former CEO Abdullah Abdullah, who shares his Tajik ethnicity with the Panjshir valley crowd, being an ideal conduit.

Also read:  I left Afghanistan empty handed & in my slippers, says ousted president Ghani

“We discussed the security of the citizens of Kabul, and reiterated that protecting the life, property and dignity of the citizens of the capital should be prioritized,” Abdullah said on Saturday in a post on Twitter.

Abdullah Abdullah, the head of High Council for National Reconciliation,  and former President Hamid Karzai on August 18 had a meeting with Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani, nephew of the leader of the Haqqani network, a key component of the Taliban pantheon.

The former Vice President also met the Panjshiri commanders at his residence on Saturday. “We met with the elders, religious scholars, representatives & commanders of Panjshir Province in my residence in Kabul. We discussed the current developments in the country, & ways of supporting peace & stability”Abdullah Abdullah tweeted.

Also read:  Ahmad Massoud, Amrullah Saleh and Bismillah Mohammadi lead Panjshir resistance against Taliban

The senior Ghani has fled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he was granted asylum on August 18. His brother’s entry into the Taliban ranks shows that even the deposed first family is deeply divided, encouraging the fence sitters to bond with the Taliban.