Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, January 18th, 2018

Death of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor

Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor is believed to be dead. Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS) confirmed on Sunday, May 22, that he was killed in a US drone attack in Balochistan province of Pakistan. Afghanistan Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah said in a tweet on Sunday, "Taliban leader Akhtar Mansour was killed in a drone strike in Quetta, Pakistan, at 04:30 pm yesterday. His car was attacked in Dahl Bandin."
US authorities had earlier said that Mansoor’s vehicle was attacked near Afghanistan-Pakistan border area, and the authorities were still assessing the results. A US official said in a statement that he was attacked in Ahmad Wal by multiple unmanned aircraft operated by US special operations forces. However, US has not yet publically announced that Mansoor has been killed.
US Secretary of State John Kerry speaking at a news conference with Myanmar’s Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi said, "Yesterday, the Unites States conducted a precision airstrike that targeted Taliban leader Mullah Mansour in a remote area of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. Mansour posed a continuing, imminent threat to U.S personnel in Afghanistan, to Afghan civilians, Afghan security forces and Resolute Support coalition members across the country. And this action sends a clear message to the world that we will continue to stand with our Afghan partners as they look to build a more stable, united, secure and prosperous Afghanistan… The United States has long maintained that an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned reconciliation process is the shortest way to achieve peace and peace is what we want. Mansour was a threat to that effort and to bringing an end to the violence.”
It is important to see how this would help in the reconciliation process as after his death, there would be a leadership vacuum in Taliban and that may start another war for succession most probably between Mullah Omar's brother Mullah Abdul Manan and son Mullah Yaqub, and Sirajuddin Haqqani, the Haqqani network chief as Haqqani was Mansour's deputy and operational commander. If this happens it would ultimately delay the reconciliation process. That is what happened after the announcement of death of Mullah Omar. Mullah Mansoor had recently gained the support of some of the leaders of Taliban groups.
Afghan Presidential office, however, believes that the death of Mullah Mansoor would provide an opportunity for those groups of Taliban that want to stop fighting and bloodshed and join the peace process. Nonetheless, only time would decide whether the Taliban groups would take his death as an opportunity or excuse for further fighting. This attack would, nevertheless, give them a huge blow and it should make them understand that fighting would lead to further destruction and deaths; therefore, they should come to the negotiation table.
It is also to be seen whether Afghan and Pakistani officials were taken into confidence regarding the attack. John Kerry had earlier on Sunday mentioned that he had notified Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif; however, Pakistani Prime Minister has not yet commented on whether he was notified or not. Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesman, Nafees Zakaria said that Pakistan was seeking clarification. He also added that that Pakistan wanted the Taliban to return to the negotiating table to end the long war in Afghanistan as military action is not a solution.
Recently, a session of Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) was held in Pakistan. However, Afghanistan did not participate in the Group with the zeal and enthusiasm it had shown earlier. After the deadly attack in Kabul on NDS office, Afghan President had asked Pakistan to do more regarding measures against the Afghan Taliban. He had also mentioned that Pakistan was not doing its part that was promised in the earlier QCG meetings and, therefore, Afghanistan would not seek Pakistan’s support for a peace deal with Taliban.
It would be interesting to see how the efforts would be made in coming times regarding the reconciliation process with Taliban. If not in the framework of QCG, what are the other options for Afghanistan? Would it want to pursue a process without the involvement of Pakistan? If so, how influential and productive such a process would be and what are the odds that Taliban would ultimately join that process? Especially, what would be the options after the death of Mullah Mansoor?
The reconciliation process with Taliban has always been a Herculean task for the Afghan government and even the US. There have been many occasions when certain achievements have been made only to result into confusions later on. The poor Afghan people have suffered as a result. They have never been given the good news of peace and tranquillity which they have been demanding for many years now. The death of Mullah Mansoor would be a good news for Afghan people only if it would result into peace and tranquillity, otherwise, it would be any other highly celebrated piece of news with no fruitful outcome.