The Taliban supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada’s decision to appoint Mullah Yaqoob, elder son of Mullah Omar, as head of the military commission, is aimed at further strengthening his hold on all affairs ahead of the key negotiations between the Taliban and Afghan political leaders, the Pakistani newspaper Daily Times reported on Wednesday, citing a senior Taliban member.

The Taliban’s senior member also said that the group’s powerful “Rehbari Shura” or leadership council, is also discussing a suggestion to form a new team for the intra-Afghan talks, which, according to reports, will be convened in Doha.

A senior member of the Taliban also said that there was a proposal to form a new negotiation team comprised of members of the ‘Rehbari Shura’ (leadership council) that will be under the direct supervision of Akhundzada,” he said.

“The Taliban leader is eager to take complete control before the intra-Afghan talks,” said Tahir Khan, a Pakistani journalist.

“He said there is another proposal to induct new people into the negotiation team. The idea behind the proposal is that the team should be out of the influence of anyone,” said the Daily Times in the report.

“No final decision has yet been taken and the proposal is expected to be discussed in a meeting in the coming days,” said the Taliban leader, who did not want to be identified.

“I think the appointment of Mullah Yaqoub as head of the military affairs was discussed before,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.

The Daily Times’ report also states that the Taliban chief removed four members from the negotiation team including Amir Khan Mutaqi, Maulvi Jan Muhammad Madani, Zia ur Rahman Madani and Sheikh Sayed Rasool and five members of the Qatar office: Dr Saleh, Munir Sadaat, Jehangirwal, Abid abd Qazi Saida Jan.

The Taliban leader said the leadership council in a meeting during Ramazan favored the start of the intra-Afghan dialogue if the US keeps on taking steps for the implementation of the agreement that includes completion of the process of the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners.

Akhunzada’s decision to appoint Yaqoob last month surprised the shura members, who were not informed before the decision.

The Taliban chief usually consults the members of the leadership council, the high level decision-making body, on all decisions, the source said.

“Yaqoob later visited the shura members to formally inform them about his appointment and to seek their cooperation,” said the Taliban leader, who was privy to the development.

“Another meeting of the shura will decide the agenda for the intra-Afghan dialogue that is expected to be held soon,” Daily Times quoted the senior Taliban member as saying.

Taliban Leader Tightens Grip Before Intra-Afghan Talks: Report

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