Tensions are allegedly nigh between factions of the Afghan Taliban as Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar expressed displeasure at the interim cabinet’s composition.
Taliban officials in Doha and Qatar told BBC that there was a verbal squabble between Baradar and Afghan Refugees Minister Khalil Haqqani of the Haqqani Network, at the presidential palace on Friday.
Disagreement ensued after Baradar desired for a more inclusive cabinet with women and minority representation who, according to him, had gained considerable governance experience in the last two decades.
Rumours regarding infighting that have spread on social media since early September forced the Taliban to deny the assertion. In one such post, World Hazara Council Chairman and journalist Akram Gizabi said that there were unconfirmed reports of clashes between the Kandhari Taliban and the Haqqani network on September 5.
Moreover, Afghan journalist Bilal Sarwary tweeted and said that shots were also fired in between Taliban factions on Friday. He added that ‘thermoses’ were also thrown between Taliban fighters.
According to the BBC, other Facebook and WhatsApp posts also claimed that Baradar was murdered in an alleged shootout between the Taliban. The posts suggested that Baradar’s absence from a video that Taliban released from Kabul was evidence of the civil tensions.
A Taliban spokesperson Mohammad Naeem released a voice clip shortly after from Baradar in which the leader denied the rumours. The Taliban also claimed that Baradar was absent from Kabul because he was visiting their supreme leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada.
According to media reports, ideological differences between the group’s Yaqoob faction, the Haqqani network and Baradar have been a characteristic of Taliban leadership for a while now. The Yaqoob group under Defence Minister Mohammad Yaqoob, has favored a military presence in the cabinet. Meanwhile, Baradar who was the co-founder of Taliban, has reportedly insisted for a more politically sound cabinet. Baradar was also on the front lines of negotiating the Doha peace deal with former US president Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, the Haqqani network has adopted a hardline stance against the former Afghan government and its western allies and has been involved in major attacks against it as well.