Another Taliban leader lived lavishly in Pakistan for 15 years despite denial
KUCHLAK, Pakistan: Hibatullah Akhundzad, the new leader of the Afghan Taliban insurgency openly taught and preached at the Al Haaj mosque in a dusty town in southwestern Pakistan for the last 15 years, associates and students told Reuters. Pakistan Government, however, has been claiming that this terrorist is missing missing for the last 15 years.
Pakistan has a history of supporting and hiding terrorist leaders – Osama Bin Laden, Mullah Omar, Dawood Ibrahim, Mullah Mansour, Sahabbudim and Hafiz Saeed being just few of them.
Osama bin Laden, the backbone of al Qaeda was found and killed in Pakistan. The leader of Taliban Mullah Mohammed Omar is believed to have lived and died in Pakistan. And Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour who replaced Mullah Omar was killed in US air strike in Pakistan on May 21, 2016.
“Killing of another most wanted terrorist leader in Pakistan shows terrorists continue to use Pakistani soil as a safe haven for their activities. The policy of differentiation between the good, bad and ugly Taliban is intact despite commitments under the NAP that action would be taken against all terrorists,” said Buhsra Gohar the senior vice-president of the Awami National Party.
Details of Hibatullah’s life in Kuchlak, near the city of Quetta, could put further pressure on Pakistan to do more to crack down on militants openly living there.
The row over how far Islamabad will go to get rid of jihadi fighters and leaders has hurt relations between Pakistan and Washington, in part because thousands of US soldiers have been killed by Insurgents, supported and armed by Pakistan military.
A spokesman for the US State Department’s South Asia bureau said it was not “not in a position to confirm Hibatullah Akhundzada’s whereabouts, past or present.”
Akhundzada is now believed to be in hiding after crossing the long and porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, but not before going untouched in Kuchlak, located in Balochistan province, as he rose up the ranks of the Afghan Taliban.