KABUL: After the killing of Mullah Akhtar Mansour, members of Taliban shura (council) have gathered to decide on the new emir.
The meeting is underway at an undisclosed location at which senior Taliban members are pondering over five names to pick up the emir. The roster of candidates to succeed Mansour include Sirajuddin Haqqani, Mullah Qayyum Zakir and Mullah Yaqoub, son of longtime Taliban chief, Mullah Omer.
Militant sources say it were officials of the Iranian secret agencies who tipped the United States of Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s whereabouts. Mansour was killed in a US drone strike near Pakistan-Iran border on Saturday.
Mansour was appointed head of the Taliban in July 2015 following the revelation that the group’s founder Mullah Omar had in fact been dead for two years. He was widely blamed for leading the cover-up.
Mullah Omar’s son Mullah Yakoub, who was favoured by some commanders as new leader but at the time judged too young and inexperienced, and Omar’s brother Mullah Abdul Manan Akhund.
Other possible successors are Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who helped Omar found the Taliban movement and is seen as close to the Pakistani establishment, and Mullah Adbul Qayyum Zakir, considered one of the group’s most violent and committed commanders.
But it is Sirajuddin Haqqani – leader of the feared Taliban-allied Haqqani network responsible for some of the worst attacks on Afghan and US targets – whose name has popped up most frequently among senior sources. His appointment could intensify the conflict even further.