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Sunday October 24, 2021

Afghan Taliban defence minister sees enemies in ranks

September 25, 2021

PESHAWAR: The powerful Afghan defence minister, Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, on Friday accused some people of bringing, what he called, ‘criminals, notorious and former security officials of the ousted Afghan government into their ranks, and warned them to expel such elements, or else he would take strict punitive action against them.

In his audio message to all Taliban leaders, commanders as well as small and major groups, Mullah Yaqoob asked them to carefully listen to his message as it was important for their future success in Afghanistan.

Though he didn’t mention them by name, he criticised some

Taliban commanders and fighters over misconduct, saying abuses would not be tolerated.

It was first harsh statement from the Taliban defence minister after the Afghan Taliban had overrun the Afghan capital city on August 15.

“We have noticed that some miscreants and notorious former soldiers of the Afghan government have been allowed to join some Taliban groups where they have committed a series of violent abuses. We direct you to keep them out of your ranks, otherwise strict action will be taken against you," he warned the Taliban groups accused of harbouring notorious elements.

Mullah Yaqoob said they don't want such people in their ranks, saying these elements had joined the Islamic Emirate (Taliban movement) for their vested interest and damaging the Taliban’s image.

Mullah Yaqoob is the elder son of Mullah Omar, founding leader of Taliban movement.

Both Mullah Yaqoob and Afghanistan’s interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani are stated to be the most powerful and influential people in the Taliban government.

Mullah Yaqoob said they would launch investigations if Taliban groups themselves didn’t oust such unwanted elements from their ranks, and would then recommend strict punitive measures against them.

“We would not spare anyone then if we found such elements with them, no matter how powerful they are, or backed by any influential group or figure. Our priority is the Islamic Shariah and anyone found guilty would pay the price,” Mullah Yaqoob, known for his rigid stance, explained.

He said they would not only be expelled from the Islamic Emirate but strict action would also be taken against them.

Mullah Yaqoob also stopped the Taliban commanders, leaders and fighters from visiting various places such as the airport, markets and other districts and provinces just for merrymaking.

“The mujahideen are advised to explain it to their people to avoid visiting government offices and meeting officials there without any reason. Another issue is the taking of selfies by Taliban with senior leaders,” he said.

The statement came at a time when there were growing complaints against some of the Taliban fighters of violating their official code of conduct.

In Many places in Afghanistan, particularly in Kabul, the Afghans complained of abusive treatment at the hands of the Taliban fighters.

Despite the fact the Taliban declared general amnesty, there were also reports of revenge actions, including extra-judicial killings, particularly of targeting officials of the previous Afghan government, members of civil and military.

Mullah Yaqoob said there had been isolated reports of unauthorised executions and he repeated that such actions would not be tolerated.

"As you all are aware, under the general amnesty announced in Afghanistan, no mujahid has the right to take revenge on anyone. If someone has killed your father or brother in the past, you have to pardon the killers as the Islamic Emirate has announced a general amnesty," he said.

He said if some ‘mujahideen’ were still having grievances, they should consult the religious leaders to seek their opinion but they were not authorised to take action against their rivals.

There have been widespread complaints of abusive treatment with former government and security officials after the collapse of the Dr Ashraf Ghani government.

Besides, there are also reports of issues within the Taliban ranks over certain administrative matters.

According to Taliban sources, they had never seen some people in the past 20 years of their war against the foreign occupying forces, but they are holding important government positions.

There were reports recently about a deadly clash between two powerful Taliban groups in the presidential palace in Kabul over issues related to key government positions. In order to overcome growing internecine bickering, the Taliban top leadership had to adjust many people in the government and assigned them certain responsibilities. Some of the most powerful people were appointed as deputy ministers in important departments.