Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, leader of the Taliban, has been killed by a US drone only miles away from Quetta, Pakistan. His death, which has been confirmed by several Taliban sources comes only a year after the Islamist organisation confirmed the death of former leader Mullah Omer in 2015.
US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has verified that Mullah Mansoor was targeted and prior to the attack information was passed on to the Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Afghani government.
Recovered from the scene were a valid Pakistani Passport and National Identity Card under another alias. The passport supposedly had a valid visa for Iran, and the Corolla 2.0D which Mansoor was driving at the time, is thought to have been rented from the Iranian border.
Drone technology was first used in 2004 when Naek Muhammad, then Taliban local commander from Waziristan, was attacked in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). At first, Pakistani authorities tried to keep the news secret although images of pieces of missile that attacked Naek Muhammad later emerged.
The Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah also confirmed the death of Mansoor through his social media account, stating that the attack was launched in the Pakistan’s Balochistan province.
Taliban fled Afghanistan after United States intervention on the Taliban regime. “Da Afghanistan Islami Emarat” – Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan denied handing over the Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden the US after 9/11 attacks. Like several Al-Qaeda fighters, members of the Taliban who were mostly ethnically Pashtun were easily able to cross the Durand Line into Pakistan where they settled in towns and cities.
From Pakistan, both Taliban and Al-Qaeda were able to re-group with a more organized mode. The Tabilan were able to continue their distribution of the newly built Afghan government but also to the International Security Assistance Force who were based in the Afghan capital of Kabul.
The streets of Pakistan are full of thousands of Afghan Taliban houses and madrassas led by Pakistan’s religious parties Jamiat e Ulama Islam (Sami Ul Haq/Haqqani), Jamiat e Ulama Islam, Jamat e Islami, Jama ud Dawa, Jaish Muhammad, Ahl e Sunnat Wal Jamat (ASWJ), Tanzim e Islami (Dr Israr) and dozens other are the strong supporters of the Afghan Taliban.
Al-Qaeda, the Quetta Shura and Haqqani Network are having the open support from the religious parties and groups in Pakistan are actually an undercover Pakistan army establishment strategy. Within Pakistan, many believe the Taliban are fighting against the invading force of ISAF led by the American military. These religious groups are strategic assets for the Taliban against both Indian held Kashmir and Afghanistan.
The life and death of Taliban and Al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan:
It’s very obvious that Pakistan remain an untrustworthy ally of the United States in the ‘War on Terror’ since the 9/11 attacks. But the then ruler of the country, Gen (R) Musharaf vowed to be fully participating in the ‘War on Terror’, having zero tolerance for any sort of terrorist organizations whether they are affiliated with Al-Qaeda and Afghan Taliban or not.
It was later revealed that the then Army chief General Pervez Kiyani, Director General ISI General Pasha and the country ruler Pervez Musharaf had developed a two-faced policy with the United States. On one hand Pakistan was receiving more than 34 billion US dollar civilian and military aid, on the other the Pakistani government did not seem to be countering the terrorist groups effectively.
The International Community, under the command of ISAF and Afghan government, continued to face brutal attacks at the hands of the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Haqqani Network on an almost daily basis.
Pakistan’s double crossing was no secret either. Several researchers, journalists and diplomats raised the point on several occasions but Pakistan was the most needed ally for United States led war on terror in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.
The then Afghan President Hamid Karzai made claims that militants killing Afghans were being given safe havens on Pakistani soil of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, FATA and Balochistan as well as the Pakistan’s metropolis city of Karachi. Pakistan’s foreign affairs officials and the ruling Musharaf regime would very cleverly counter Karzai and his government’s statements as “lies”.
In state to state meetings and tri-partite gatherings, Afghanistan and the Americans often show proof that Pakistan was harboring terrorists though the Pakistani government insisted they were playing the “long game”.
The extent of Pakistan’s lack of control on terrorism was realised when on 2nd May 2011 Al-Qaeda leader and America’s “Enemy N.01”, Osama Bin Laden was shot dead by American Navy Seals at a compound in Pakistan’s garrison town of Abbottabad some kilometers away from the country capital, Islamabad.
In 2015, it was leaked by the Afghan government that, Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Omer had died in Pakistan’s first capital, Karachi of kidney failure in 2013 and was kept secret the whole time.
What is next for the Taliban?
As news reports are pouring in following Mullah Akhtar Mansoor’s death in Pakistan, the government’s response echoes the denial that has often come before. This is thought to have led to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s anger when a blast in Kabul killed at least 46 and wounded several others last year. Ghani, who is Karzai’s successor, started his presidency with a well-meant visit to Pakistan’s army office “General Head Quarters” in Rawalpindi instead of taking part in bilateral relations with the democratically elected office of Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif.
The death of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor has been condemned by Pakistani officials with their foreign office the drone strike as a “violation” of its territory. Mansoor had previously denied any sort of peace dialogue with the Afghan government and called upon his comrades to take up on the “Holy War” or “jihad”. This has prompted a rise in attacks across Afghanistan and subsequently led to the capture of Kunduz province in late September of last year. There has also been a rise in attacks in the Afghan capital, Kabul and a tougher spring offensive on Helmand province, just miles away from where Mansoor was killed.
The death of Mansoor is not the last, there will always be someone to replace him, likely Sirajuddin Haqqani (Khalifa Saib) a Young Haqqani and second in command to Mansoor. Until the Pakistani establishment’s mentality changes towards organisations, like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, this war is set to continue.
Malik Achakzai covering, Afghanistan, Pakistan, politics, culture, development, relations, climate change and religions. Having master in Mass Communication from University of Balochistan, have worked for several media organizations including Voice of America, United Press International, The Friday Times, Afghanistan Times, Daily Times Pakistan, News Lens Pakistan as freelancer for last 8 years. @AfghanJourno