Earlier this week media reports had emerged that the 60-year-old Akhundzada, who is regarded as the final voice in the Taliban’s hierarchy, was in the custody of Pakistan army.
New Delhi: Taliban’s chief Haibatbullah Akhundzada is alive and is currently based in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Taliban sources, while responding to this newspaper’s queries regarding the how and whereabouts of Akhundzada said, “he is alive and is working out of his native place, Kandahar in Afghanistan currently.”
Earlier this week media reports had emerged that the 60-year-old Akhundzada, who is regarded as the final voice in the Taliban hierarchy, was in the custody of Pakistan army.
However, Taliban sources denied that he was in the Pakistan army custody. The media reports had cited inputs generated by intelligence agencies of a Western country while reporting Akhundzada’s probable Pakistan army custody.
In the coming weeks, Akhundzada is likely to be appointed as the head of the governance system which the Taliban is going to put in place in Afghanistan.
Akhundzada was appointed the chief of Taliban or Emir in 2016. His “expertise”, sources said, is in religious teachings and not milittary planning. He is credited with maintaining unity among the different commanders and factions of Taliban.
“There is no need for the Pakistan army to take Akhundzada in custody. The stakeholders in Pakistan have direct and easy access to all these Taliban leaders. These stakeholders in Pakistan will not antagonise the Taliban leader and cadre by taking a senior leader like Akhundzada into their custody at a time when even a fully functional governance system has not been established in Kabul,” a Kabul based source said.
Apart from India and Pakistan, the other countries who have an interest in Afghanistan, strategic or economic, like the US, China, Russia and Iran are closely monitoring the situation, with Pakistan even “manipulating” the process that is underway to select the top Taliban leaders who will lead Afghanistan.