KABUL: Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the top Taliban leader and the Deputy Prime Minister in the new Afghanistan government, has returned to capital Kabul and assumed his duties.
According to media reports, upon his return to Kabul, Baradar is being guarded by his own security men. The influential Taliban leader has refused to take security from the Interior Ministry, which is being headed by Sirajuddin Haqqani of the Haqqani Network.
Baradar’s move to bring his own security is being linked to a recent fight with the Haqqani faction in Kabul in which he was reportedly injured. Amid widespread rumors about his death, Baradar and Taliban issued audio statements saying the former was in good health.
While Haqqani had insisted that he take security from the Interior Ministry, Baradar refused the same.
Defence Minister, Mullah Yaqoob the son of Taliban founder Mullah Omar, is still in Kandahar. The reports further said that Baradar’s return to Kabul could aggravate tensions in the capital.
Friction between the Taliban and the ISI-backed Haqqani Network is likely to increase in the days to come.
Interestingly, Baradar has been ranked among the 100 most influential people by Time Magazine.
Time Magazine said that Baradar was making all the major decisions. This included offering amnesty to members of the former regime, the lack of bloodshed when the Taliban entered Kabul. He was also responsible for the Taliban's contacts and visits to other countries, especially China.
Baradar had been arrested by Pakistan's security forces. He was however released in 2018 when the peace negotiations with the United States intensified.