Islamabad: Sirajuddin Haqqani, the head of the dreaded Haqqani Network, helped Taliban supremo Mullah Akhtar Mansour win back dissidents and was instrumental in securing top positions for Mullah Omar’s son and brother in the Taliban hierarchy, according to a media report.
Sirajuddin, the head of the Haqqani Network and the second-in-command in the Taliban hierarchy, delivered a rare speech at a recent gathering where a top dissident Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir pledged loyalty to Mansour, the Express Tribune reported.
Mullah Zakir, who formerly headed the Taliban’s powerful military commission, swore allegiance to Mansour after “some of his conditions were met by Khalifa Sirajuddin Haqqani,” a Taliban leader was quoted as saying.
According to one of his letters, Zakir wanted a review of all major Taliban policies such as suicide bombings, peace talks with the Americans and Kabul, the Doha-based political office, Taliban judicial and intelligence systems and the policy on amending the Afghan constitution.
It was Sirajuddin, known as ‘Khalifa’ among the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, who secured top positions for Mullah Omar’s son Mullah Yaqoob and brother Mullah Abdul Manan in the Taliban hierarchy, the report said.
The two had abandoned their opposition to Mullah Mansour months ago, but they had no position in the group until last week when Manan was given membership in the leadership council.
Similarly, Yaqoob has been assigned the task of leading the Taliban’s military affairs in 15 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, the report said.
“With the induction of Mullah Zakir, Yaqoob and Manan in the new Rehbari Shura, or leadership council, Sirajuddin now enjoys a comfortable position in the council because they are considered as his camp members,” another Taliban leader was quoted as saying. Sirajuddin welcomed Zakir’s rejoining the Taliban movement, and urged the Taliban to focus on fighting.
“It is spring season now. Mujahideen are happily going to the battlefield,” he said in his speech to Taliban leaders in reference to the start of the fighting season in the war-torn Afghanistan.
eferring to internal differences, Sirajuddin was quoted as saying, “If we are waging jihad for martyrdom and can live as refugees, we should also accept leadership. There were some misunderstandings, but all leaders are loyal to the system.” Sirajuddin’s uncle, Khalilur Rahman Haqqani, a senior member of the Haqqani Network, is also helping in efforts to bring the dissidents back, the report said citing some Taliban sources.
Both Sirajuddin and Khalil Haqqani are on the US wanted list and carry huge bounties