Video footage has emerged of Taliban deputy leader Abdul Ghani Baradar acknowledging that the group makes all decisions related to the Afghan peace talks after consulting its leadership and clerics’ council based in Pakistan.
The footage was recorded when Baradar met wounded Taliban fighters being treated in Karachi during his visit to Pakistan last week as the head of a “political commission” for talks with the leadership in Islamabad.
Video footage has also emerged of Taliban leader Mullah Fazal Akhund, a member of the group’s team for negotiations being held in Doha, meeting Taliban fighters being trained in a camp in Pakistani territory. These videos were widely shared on social media this week, including by pro-Taliban accounts.
During a meeting with Taliban fighters in Karachi, including those being treated for their injuries, Baradar, the head of the Taliban’s political office in Doha, can be heard saying that the wounded men have been sent to Pakistan because they cannot be treated in Afghanistan.
Baradar also makes it clear that all of the Taliban’s decisions on the Afghan peace process are made only after consulting the group’s “shura” or leadership and the “ulema” or clerics based in Pakistan.
Baradar made the remarks while visiting wounded members of the Taliban in the Pakistan city of Karachi, saying that the Taliban’s leadership exists in Pakistan.
“Though everything has passed us by, we are compelled to come (to Pakistan) because there are not a few people here, our entire leadership is present here in this place,” he is heard saying in the video, addressing a large group of men.
“When we conduct partial or general negotiations (in Doha), we share the whole process with the ulema council and the shura here. We then receive their guidance and act upon it,” he added.
Another video shows Baradar meeting with a senior Taliban leader from Daikundi in Afghanistan.
A third video shows Mullah Fazal Akhund meeting masked men clad in fatigues at a Taliban training camp at an undisclosed location in Pakistan. The men can be seen embracing him and kissing his hand.
The meetings depicted in the videos were reportedly held after the Taliban delegation led by Baradar met Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad during a three-day visit that began on December 16.
The Twitter handle of the Pakistani prime minister’s office had said that Khan, during his meeting with the Taliban delegation on December 18, had expressed concern over the “high level of violence” in Afghanistan and called on all sides for “reduction in violence leading to ceasefire”.
Pakistan has for long sought to deny reports about the Taliban’s top leadership being based in Quetta and Karachi and said that it has little influence over the group. However, Indian and US officials believe Pakistan’s military establishment has close ties to the Taliban leadership and is backing the group to reduce India’s influence in Afghanistan