New Delhi, May 26: The decision by the Taliban to chose Mullah Haibatullah Akhunzada a religious leader over a warrior to head the outfit was quite a surprising move.
Many believed that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar one of the co-founders of the Taliban would be made the leader. The might of the Taliban leaders is based on their contribution during the Soviet war.
Haibatullah a former deputy of the Chief Justice, Afghanistan was not even part of the war with the Soviet. In fact during the entire duration of the war he was away in Pakistan which makes the decision to make him head today even more surprising.
Haibatullah who belongs to the Noorzai tribe hails from the Panjwai district of the southern Khandahar province. Although he has nothing to boast about his fighting skills, he is a very respected scholar.
In fact both the young and older lot in the Taliban hold him in very high esteem. He would also issue decrees on behalf of the Taliban which were respected by his entire clan.
These are some of the facts that could have led to his appointment as leader. Moreover since he is highly revered in the Taliban, the question of a revolt too is remote.
The Taliban was a fractured unit when Mullah Mansour took over following the death of Mullah Omar. Mullah Haibatullah was a deputy to Mullah Mansour and he had played an active part in trying to douse the fire in the outfit.
In fact one of the big tasks that he undertook as the deputy was successfully negotiate a cease fire with the dissident Taliban faction.
India watches closely:
India has been watching the developments closely. Peace in Afghanistan is of extreme importance to India which is looking to open up the trade route through the Chabahar port deal signed with Iran.
However the position of Haibatullah on the peace talks with the Afghanistan government continues to remain unknown.
There are conflicting views on his position on the peace talks. Some feel that he will take the Mullah Omar path. He will try and put the Taliban in a position that it had when Mullah Omar was the chief.
This would essentially mean bringing the young and old together and instil the loyalty factor. It would also mean unleashing terror on the enemies.
However there is also another section which feels that this would be the best time to negotiate with the Taliban and get the peace talks rolling. He is the man who can unite the Taliban and hence becomes the best bet to talk peace.
However Mullah Haibatullah is a man who would go by the Shura Council of the Taliban and will not work independently of the decision making body. At the moment there is no clarity on his position but the following months would make it clear.