There is more than what meets the eye in Afghanistan. Mullah Omar is off the most wanted list of the United States of America even as Afghanistan sent some of its soldiers to train at the elite officer academy in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
The United States of America did manage to hunt down, Osama Bin Laden, but a decade on, they still claim that they are clueless about the whereabouts of Mullah Omar, the Supreme Commander of the Taliban.
The US claims that Mullah Omar could be hiding in Quetta. or Balochistan. The claim has however been denied by Pakistan repeatedly although there is ample evidence to suggest that Pakistan is lying.
Is Obama mending ties with the Afghan Taliban?
Although the United States does not mention anything in the open, the actions clearly point towards a thaw in the relations with the Afghan Taliban.
The name of Mullah Omar has gone missing from the FBI's most wanted list. However the US claims that he figures in the State Department's list under the Reward for Justice programme, offering $10 million to anyone who provides information.
Although the United States continues to deny any deal with the Afghan Taliban there are certain actions that are clearly indicative of them going soft on Mullah Omar.
There have been a series of meetings that were held in Qatar between officials from Washington and the Taliban. The Taliban has a political office in Qatar and it is said that several meetings were held here in a bid to pave the way for talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
US-Pak would trust Omar over Bhagdadi
Mullah Omar like Osama Bin Laden enjoys a cult status. After all he had openly denied handing over of Bin Laden to the US. He also has a good command over the Taliban which the Pakistanis now call the Good Taliban.
The announcement of the ISIS to float its Afghan wing, the Al-Khorasan is being watched very closely by both Pakistan and the US. If the Khorasan manages to set foot in Afghanistan and succeed in no way are they going to be under the control of either the US and Pakistan.
The taking over of the al Qaeda by Ayman al-Zawahiri has had no impact since he is not revered to as a leader like Osama Bin Laden was. The Taliban on the other hand which is very familiar with the terrain could see itself breaking if it is not controlled by a leader with a cult status.
Given this scenario and in a bid to have control over Afghanistan, a Mullah Omar becomes extremely important. Omar is the only other terrorist leader in the world other than Abu Bakr Al-Bhagdadi of the ISIS who enjoys a cult status.
In addition to this, Mullah Omar would also realize the importance of keeping the ISIS away from Afghanistan and would choose Pakistan and the US for support.
He too would realize that he would require strong support from both these countries in order to take control over Afghanistan especially in the wake of external threats in the form of the ISIS.
Where is Mullah Omar and can he still lead?
The million dollar question is where exactly is Mullah Omar? Speaking to several officers in the Intelligence Bureau, one gets the impression that he is alive, but not fit enough to lead a battle. He will be more of a symbolic figure for the Taliban and his presence is good enough for the Taliban to stand united, an officer informed.
As per the confession of Mullah Mujahid Sakhidad, Mullah Omar was in Quetta in the year 2004. Mullah Mujahid is a very close aide of Mullah Omar. In the year 2006, former Afghanistan President, Hamid Karzai made it clear that Mullah Omar was hiding in Pakistan with the support of Islamabad.
In another confession by Abul Haq Haqi a Taliban operative, Mullah Omar was running a shadow government from Quetta.
There are also reports suggesting that the health of Mullah Omar is not in great shape. He was a fierce commander until 2011, but a cardiac arrest slowed him down.
This has raised doubts about his ability to fight and lead his forces. However Indian agencies say that his presence is sufficient for the Taliban as he is the only one who can keep them united.