The Spectator reported on Monday that a power battle inside the Taliban has severely harmed two major figures: deputy prime minister Mullah Baradar and the group’s spiritual leader Haibatullah Akhundzada. It referenced a recent conflict between the Baradar camp and the Haqqani network during government formation talks to claim that the former was the “primary loser.” According to The Spectator, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) commander also backed the Haqqanis, ensuring that all crucial jobs went to Pakistani supporters, primarily from the extreme Haqqani network.
The Spectator reported that “furniture as well as enormous thermos flasks full of hot green were tossed around” during the early September fights. According to The Spectator article, Haqqani network chief Khalil-ul-Rahman Haqqani rose from his chair and began striking Baradar at one point during the meeting. Baradar had pushed for a more “inclusive” government that included non-Taliban leaders and ethnic minorities, which the rest of the world would accept.
After the fights, he went missing for a while until reappearing in Kandahar. He spoke with tribal chiefs who back him, but he was also forced to broadcast a video message on the Taliban-controlled state-run television network. According to The Spectator, the communication “looked like a hostage video.” Baradar and those involved in the Doha talks tried to portray the Taliban as moderates, but the Haqqanis have hailed suicide assaults. Afghanistan’s minister of refugees, Khalil Haqqani, is on the UN’s sanctions list and has been linked to military actions in the country. The Haqqanis, who take their name from the Darul Uloom Haqqania madrassa in Islamabad, are heavily embedded in Pakistan’s security apparatus.