The Taliban appears to have set the clock back in the country by at least 20 years with the insurgent group set to proclaim the re-establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The people's government, meanwhile, collapsed on Sunday and President Ashraf Ghani is said to have left the country for Tajikistan. With Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar likely to be declared as the new president, here's a look at his political career so far.
#BreakingNews Congratulatory message from Mullah Baradar Akhund, Political Deputy and head of the Political office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan after the recent victories in Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/zvZdPgU0RU
— Muhammad Jalal (@MJalal700) August 15, 2021
Who is Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar
Better known as Mullah Baradar is one of the co-founders of the Taliban movement in 1994. While Haibatullah Akhundzada is the Taliban’s overall leader, Baradar is its political chief and its most public face. He currently heads the political office of the insurgent group and is part of its negotiating team in Doha. Baradar is reported to have been one of the trusted commanders of Taliban founder Mullah Omar and his married to the latter's sister. Baradar has developed a profile as a military strategist and commander. He held important responsibilities in nearly all the major wars across Afghanistan and remained top commander of the Taliban's formation in the western region (Herat) as well as Kabul. At the time the Taliban were toppled in 2001 he was their deputy minister of defence.
According to Interpol, Baradar was born in Weetmak village in Dehrawood district, Uruzgan province of Afghanistan, in 1968. He is also known to be part of the Popalzai branch of Durrani tribe, the same as former Afghan president Hamid Karzai. He fought alongside the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviets in the 1980s. After the Russians were driven out in 1992 and the country fell into civil war between rival warlords, Baradar set up a madrassa in Kandahar with Omar, and the two eventually founded the Taliban movement.
The 'liberal' among fundamentalists
Following the Taliban’s collapse in 2001, Baradar is believed to have been among a small group of insurgents who approached then interim leader Karzai with a letter outlining a potential deal that would have seen the militants recognise the new administration. Moreover, during the Taliban’s 20-year exile, Baradar had gained a reputation for being a potent military leader and a subtle political operator. Western diplomats came to view him as the most resistant to ISI control, and most amenable to political contacts with Kabul. Baradar was captured in a joint US-Pakistan raid in Karachi in February 2010. He was later released in 2018 and relocated to Qatar after then-president Trump made the request as a part of peace talks.
I was proud to visit Doha at this truly historic time for the Afghan people. Grateful to the government of Qatar for their support for these critical negotiations as we strive towards a lasting peace for the people of Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/0gi0R30pMi
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) September 13, 2020
Baradar signed the Doha agreement with the US in February 2020. As per the agreement, the US and Taliban agreed not to fight each other and it was supposed to be followed by power-sharing talks between the Taliban and the Kabul government. However, there was little progress on that end.