Afghan Taliban’s new political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar will not be attending peace talks with U.S. officials due to take place in Qatar next week.
Senior Taliban leaders told Reuters that Baradar would not be traveling to Qatar, citing different reasons including problems obtaining travel documents as well difference among the leadership over his precise role in the talks.
Baradar was released from a Pakistani jail in October and his appointment was widely seen as marking a new push by the Taliban to emerge from the political and diplomatic shadows.
Baradar, who earlier led the insurgent group’s military operations in southern Afghanistan, was arrested in 2010 by a team from Pakistan and U.S. intelligence agencies. A co-founder of the movement, he was a close friend of the reclusive late Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, who gave him his nom de guerre, “Baradar” or “brother”.
“Actually Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar wanted to go to Qatar and personally head the peace talks but due to a host of reasons, he would not be able to travel to Qatar and participate in talks,” one leader told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Taliban spokesman Sohail Shahin said earlier this week that he was unable to say whether Baradar would be attending.
It comes as about a week after the Taliban said that their meeting with U.S. officials in Islamabad was postponed. The armed group stressed that the meeting was delayed “because members of the Taliban are still on the UN blacklist”.