New Taliban boss may bring peace in region

CONTRARY to Western propaganda as well as apprehensions about possible selection of chief of dreaded Haqqani network, Sirajuddin Haqqani, as new leader of Afghan Taliban, the movement elevated an elderly cleric Sheikh Haibatullah Akhunzada as their new leader. Akhunzada was deputy to Mulla Mansoor whose death has now been confirmed by Taliban, putting to rest all speculations and doubts in this regard.
Selection of Haibatullah Akhunzada has special significance in the prevailing circumstances when both Americans and the Kabul Government have indicated their preference for use of force over peaceful settlement of the problem. The new leader is a scholar and not a soldier as he was a senior judge during five-year rule of Taliban over Afghanistan. His religious inclination and legal background are being seen traits that could bring about a positive change in the overall thinking of Taliban. His track record shows he never indulged in fighting or extremism sparking hopes that he could play a role for peace if conducive environment is provided. It is, however, unfortunate that the United States is relying more on military power than dialogue and by targeting Mulla Mansoor Washington brazenly sabotaged the prospects for resumption of dialogue for a foreseeable future. Despite this provocative action, Taliban, by selecting a non-combatant leader, have sent a message that they are amenable to peace process. In fact, Taliban were responsive to peace efforts earlier too as they listened to the advice of Pakistan and participated in Murree talks and expressed willingness to attend second round of direct talks as well but the process was scuttled by anti-peace forces in Kabul. We hope that taking advantage of the positive message that emerges from the selection of Akhunzada, all stakeholders would again focus on peaceful settlement of the issue as there is no military solution of the complicated scenario.

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