Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, widely tipped to be the next president of Afghanistan, arrived in Kabul on Saturday for talks on establishing a new “inclusive” government, according to reports.
Baradar, who served as a negotiator for peace talks in Doha, Qatar, is in the capital to meet “jihadi leaders and politicians for an inclusive government set-up”, a Taliban official told Agence France-Presse. The Associated Press and the BBC confirmed Baradar’s arrival in the capital.
Other Taliban leaders seen in Kabul in recent days include Khalil Haqqani – one of America’s most wanted terrorists with a $5 million bounty on his head.
Also see: Who is Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar?
Pro-Taliban social media feeds showed Haqqani meeting the former warlord and influential politician Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
Baradar arrived in Afghanistan last Tuesday from Qatar, choosing to touch down in Kandahar – the country’s second-biggest city that was the Taliban’s spiritual birthplace.
Within hours of his return, the group announced its rule would be “different” this time.
Arrested in Pakistan in 2010, Baradar was in custody until pressure from the US saw him freed in 2018 and relocated to Qatar. He was appointed head of the Taliban’s political office in Doha, where he oversaw the signing of the agreement that led to the withdrawal of US forces from the country.
Meanwhile, former president Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, a senior official in the toppled government, met the acting Taliban governor of Kabul on Saturday. Abdullah said in a tweet that the priority was “protecting the life, property & dignity of the citizens of the capital”. Karzai and Abdullah have also met other senior Taliban leaders in recent days, in what Karzai’s spokesman has previously described as a step towards negotiations with Baradar.