A number of former Taliban members, including leaders of Harakat-e-Inqilab Islami Afghanistan, members of the High Peace Council and Shura-e-Insijam-e-Ulema-e-Afghanistan, gathered to mourn the death of the Taliban’s supreme commander, Mullah Omar.
The reclusive Taliban leader was announced dead this past week by Taliban spokesman after years of speculation about his condition and whereabouts. However, the circumstances surrounding his death remain murky, as Afghan government officials maintain that Omar died two years ago, in 2013, at a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan.
“His son claims that he was murdered, but some others say he died at a hospital,” Afghan High Peace Council (HPC) member Qazi Habibullah Fawzi said on Saturday.
“Mullah Omar was a person who shocked the world – how is it possible that he dies at a hospital in a peaceful manner?” former Taliban official Maulavi Qalamuddin said.
In the wake of Omar’s death, the naming of Mullah Akhter Mansoor, his former deputy, as his successor has caused some backlash, in turn exposing major factional divisions within the group’s ranks.
“The Quetta Shura and commanders have claimed that they haven’t been taken into confidence,” Qalamuddin said. “There is the possibility that an agreement has been made for Mansoor or someone else,” he added.
Participants of mourning gathering called on the Taliban to leave Pakistan. “May God get us and the Taliban rid of Pakistan,” Harakt-e-Inqilab-e-Islami Afghanistan member Sher Mohammad Akhundzada said.
“Following the death of Osama in Pakistan, I asked you [the Taliban] to leave the traitorous and hypocrital country of Pakistan,” Shura-e-Insijam-e-Ulema-e-Afghanistan member Mufti Abdul Shokor said.
Since his being named the new supreme leader of the Taliban, a thirty minute long audio tape of Mullah Akhter Mansoor has been released, in which called upon the Taliban to be united. Analysts have said the apparent need for this entreaty is indicative of the possible degree of division within the group.
In the tape, Mansoor warns that those trying to exploit the Taliban’s current vacuum of power will face severe punishment.
Although the Taliban has named Mullah Akhter Mansoor the successor to Mullah Omar, along with Maulavi Haibatullah Akhondzada and Serajuddin Haqqani as his deputies, certain members of the Quetta Council in media interviews have expressed their objections to the decision.