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Pakistan gains upper hand in Taliban peace talks

Zafar Shah Rouyee
Afghan media suspect Pakistan of using the recently confirmed death of Mullah Omar to manipulate political negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government
3.08.2015  |  Kabul
A newspaper stand in Kabul displays headlines from the daily press.
A newspaper stand in Kabul displays headlines from the daily press.

Official confirmations of Taliban leader Mullah Muhhamad Omar's death have generated a vibrant media discussion about the future of the Taliban and the country's security situation.

President Ashraf Ghani confirmed July 29 that Mullah Omar died in April 2013 in Pakistan. The president's claim contradicted an earlier statement issued under Mullah Omar's name three days after the Eyd holiday, which asserted that accomplishing a goal through political activities is legitimate in Islam. This was a divergence from Mullah Omar's long-held belief that the Taliban's grievances could only be adressed through military means.

“Mullah Muhammad Omar’s death will weaken the Taliban and they will divide into several factions. Although Pakistan’s intelligence agency lays out goals and objectives of the Taliban, Mullah Omar with his mysterious life played a major role in unifying the Taliban,” Muhammadullah Babrak, an expert on political affairs, said in a roundtable on Tolo News.

Wahid Mozhda, an expert on political affairs, said that Mullah Muhammad Omar’s death will exacerbate the activities of the Islamic State (IS) in the region. Some Taliban will rise in revenge for the death of Mullah Muhammad Omar, and some will join IS, he added. Mozhda, a diplomat under the Taliban regime, added that conflicts over Taliban leadership will escalate. Fifteen hundred clerics appointed Mullah Omar as the leader of the righteous, Mozhda said. Now, the Taliban doN't have anyone to replace him.

Botched negotiations

Meanwhile, Abdul Qayoom Sajjadi, a member of the House of Representatives of Afghanistan, participated in a roundtable on Ariana News TV where he described the news of Mullah Omar’s death as questionably timed, as they emerged just when peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban were intensifying. Sajjadi accused Pakistan of using Mullah Omar’s death to confuse derail the Afghan government's peace talks with the Taliban.

Liaqat Ali Amini, an expert on political affairs, said Pakistan would benefit from confirming Mullah Omar's demise: “In the negotiations, the Taliban will pay more attention to the demands of Pakistan. On the other hand, Pakistan will see the emergence of the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq as beneficial for its military policies in the region.”

“With Mullah Muhammad Omar’s death, the government of Afghanistan will become more optimistic about the peace process, thinking the Taliban will fight one another and some will join the government,” Nazar Muhammad Mutmaen, an expert on political affairs, said on One TV.

Social media users react

“He was a man who made the lives of thirty million people extremely difficult over two decades. His men committed many murders under his name. All segments of the society live under their constant threat and no one has any type of immunity from them. Despite his fame and the fact that everybody knows him, he has only one picture and one eye,” wrote Jalil Poya, a Facebook user.

Ahad Farzam, another Facebook user, wrote that Afghanistan without Mullah Muhammad Omar would become much calmer, but his ideology would last.

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