Islamabad: The provincial governor of southern Helmand province Hayatulllah Hayat rejected the claim of Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid that the leadership shura of Afghan Taliban, commonly known as Quetta Shura has been shifted to Afghanistan some months ago. Speaking to Speaking to RFE/RL, Hayatulllah Hayat said the reports regarding the transfer of Quetta Shura to Helmand province are totally baseless and their leadership council is still based in Quetta city. Hayat further added that the top leaders of the group are still based in Quetta and Peshawar cities although movement of the group’s shadow governors and other leader cannot be rejected to provinces from the Pakistani cities.
This comes as the group’s spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid earlier told Associated Press that the members of the Quetta Shura had shifted to Helmand provinces some months ago. A senior Taliban commander, Asad Afghan, also told to Associated Press the move would consolidate the insurgents’ military gains and help lay the ground for a dominant position if and when peace talks resume. “We are in the last stages of war and are moving forward,” said Afghan, who is closely involved in formulating the insurgents’ war strategy.
“We are the real government in Afghanistan,” he said. The move across the border would give the movement “more focus” at a time it needs to be “quick, clear and more secure about our decisions.” This comes as the Afghan officials earlier said the group is looking to shift its leadership council in Helmand province by intensifying attacks on key districts of the province. However, Hayat said the group’s attempts to shift the Quetta Shura to Helmand have failed despite they launched numerous attacks to seize key areas of the province.
The Taliban’s leadership shura consists of 16 elected officials who oversee activity across Afghanistan, give permission for any changes in planning and strategy, and mediate disputes among military commanders. The military commanders include Mullah Yaqoub, the son of the movement’s founder, Mullah Mohammad Omar – who was declared dead last year – and Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the brutal Haqqani network and a co-deputy leader with Yaqoub. The Afghan Taliban is led by Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, who took over after the death of Mullah Omar’s successor, Akhtar Mansoor, in a U.S. drone strike this year. High-ranking Taliban officials say Haibatullah is not engaged in day-to-day decision-making, said in AP report.