Impact of the Death of Afghan Taliban Leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour by US Drone Strike on Afghan Peace Process.
On the eve of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s death in a U.S drone strike within the territory of Pakistan, it was widely perceived that the Afghan reconciliation process would face another setback. As the events unfolded, the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies generated a poll to ascertain where the fate of the Afghan reconciliation process lies in the eyes of the public. Around 54% of the respondents believed that derailment of the Afghan reconciliation process is now inevitable. Only 6% of the poll respondents were still optimistic about the continuity of peace talks, while as many as 40% of the respondents were stymied between both the possibilities, as they marked “Don’t know”.
The deceased Emir of Taliban had ascended to the throne of the so-called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in August 2015, after the death of the former Emir Mullah Omar was confirmed. For three years, Mullah Mansour kept his predecessor’s death discreet for fear of disbandment of the Afghan Taliban into various factions. However, the cracks within the militant group’s ranks became evident after the news of his death broke out, leading to the cancellation of the second phase of the peace talks. Although, Mullah Mansour was largely perceived as a strong proponent of peace talks, the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) could not take the negotiation process ahead during Mullah Mansour’s era as the Taliban leader. So much so that the reconciliation process seemed to be reversing amid deadly attacks in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul.
The core Taliban leadership was stuck in a dilemma when the Khorasan Chapter of the terrorist outfit Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) started gaining grounds in Afghanistan by recruiting the disgruntled Taliban warriors. It was believed by experts that the Taliban were launching multiple attacks in Kabul city and the northern provinces to prove mettle within its ranks. Until March 2016, the QCG could not succeed in bringing the Taliban to negotiations. Currently, with persisting cracks in the group during turbulent times of transitioning from Mullah Mansour to Mullah Haibatullah’s leadership, the probability of derailment of the Afghan reconciliation process is apparently high unless the new leader Haibatullah changes the course.