Taliban commander and senior leader of the Haqqani Network terrorist group, Anas Haqqani, has met former Afghan President Hamid Karzai for talks, a Taliban official said on Wednesday, amid efforts by the Taliban to set up a government.
Karzai was accompanied by the old government’s main peace envoy, Abdullah Abdullah, in the meeting, said the Taliban official, who declined to be identified. He gave no more details.
The Haqqani Network is an important faction of the Taliban, who captured the capital, Kabul, on Sunday. The network, based on the border with Pakistan, was accused over recent years of some of the most deadly terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, as the Taliban consolidated power, one of their leaders and co-founders, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, returned to Afghanistan for the first time in more than 10 years. A Taliban official said leaders would show themselves to the world, unlike in the past when they lived in secret. “Slowly, gradually, the world will see all our leaders,” the senior Taliban official told Reuters. “There will be no shadow of secrecy.”
According to AFP, Baradar, now deputy leader of the Taliban, chose to touch down in Afghanistan’s second biggest city Kandahar — the Taliban’s spiritual birthplace and capital during their first time in power.
He arrived from Qatar, where he has spent months leading talks with the United States and then Afghan peace negotiators.
Ghani is in the UAE
After days of speculation about the whereabouts of President Ashraf Ghani, who fled Afghanistan last weekend as the Taliban surrounded Kabul, the United Arab Emirates said on Wednesday that he had taken refuge in the Gulf nation. Ghani has come under withering criticism for his performance during his tenure as Afghanistan’s leader and the ignominious way in which he fled, speeding the government’s collapse.
The UAE said it is hosting Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and his family. “The UAE has welcomed President Ashraf Ghani and his family into the country on humanitarian grounds,” the UAE foreign ministry said in a statement.
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