The Quetta Shura is a militant organization which is composed of the leaders of the Afghan Taliban, and believed to be based, since about 2001, within the city of Quetta in the Balochistan province of Pakistan. The Shura was formed at a time after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was toppled as part of events occurring during late 2001, the senior leadership at the time, including Mullah Mohammed Omar, proceeding to escape into Pakistan.
History and development
After the end of the Taliban government in 2002, a number of persons, amounting to ten individuals who had held positions in the previous government, formed a Council of Leaders (Rabbari Shura). These ten persons were: eight veteran high ranking (i.e. elite) commanders locating originally from the southern area of Afghanistan, another hailing from Paktika, and another from the provinces of Paktia. The Shura was subsequently increased in number, during March 2003, to 33 individuals. During October 2006, the Consultative Council (majlis al-shura) was formed, comprising a number of advisors to 13 core members.
Accusations by Coalition Forces
Directing the insurgency in Afghanistan
According to retired General of the United States Army, Stanley A. McChrystal, the Quetta Shura is directing the Afghani Taliban insurgency. In a report to President Obama in 2009, he stated that it posed the greatest threat to his troops. He said, "Afghanistan's insurgency is clearly supported from Pakistan. The Quetta Shura conducts a formal campaign review each winter, after which Mullah Omar announces his guidance and intent for the following year." Americans want to extend the Drone strikes into Balochistan.
In September 2009 US ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson said, "In the past, we focussed on Al Qaeda because they were a threat to us. The Quetta Shura mattered less to us because we had no troops in the region, now our troops are there on the other side of the border, and the Quetta Shura is high on Washington’s list."
Funding from Persian Gulf region
The Taliban leaders raise money from wealthy Persian gulf donors and direct operations in south Afghanistan. According to Lt. Gen. David Barno, the retired former commander of American forces in Afghanistan "The Quetta Shura is extremely important, they are the intellectual and ideological underpinnings of the Taliban insurgency."
Support from Pakistani intelligence
American officials believe that the Quetta Shura gets support from parts of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), as some of its senior officials believe that leaders such as Mullah Omar would be valuable assets if the Taliban were to regain power after a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. According to Abdul Rahim Mandokhel, a Pakistani senator from Zhob in northern Balochistan. "The whole war in Afghanistan is being launched from here," he said. He accused Pakistan's intelligence agencies of carrying out a "double" policy. "One thing is clear: the area is being used for cross-border offences," he said.
A report by the London School of Economics (LSE) claimed to provide the most concrete evidence yet that the ISI is providing funding, training and sanctuary to the Taliban insurgency on a scale much larger than previously thought. The report's author Matt Waldman spoke to nine Taliban field commanders in Afghanistan and concluded that Pakistan's relationship with the insurgents ran far deeper than previously realised. Some of those interviewed suggested that the organization even attended meetings of the Taliban's supreme council, the Quetta Shura. A spokesman for the Pakistani military dismissed the report, describing it as "malicious".
American and western officials have long complained that Pakistan has ignored the presence of senior Taliban leadership in Quetta and done little to address this situation. Pakistani authorities have denied the existence of such an organization in Pakistan. However statements by US officials have led to fears that US would launch Drone strikes on Quetta. Jehan Zeb Jamaldini, senior vice president of Balochistan National Party was quoted as saying that Mullah Omar and his 2nd and 3rd tier leadership were around Quetta and would be targeted by the US.
In December 2009 Pakistani government for the first time acknowledged the existence of Quetta Shura. The Defence minister of Pakistan, Ahmad Mukhtar acknowledged the presence of Quetta Shura but stated that security forces had damaged it to such an extent that it no longer posed a threat.
On November 23, 2012, when Pakistan released nine senior Taliban leaders, commentator Ali K. Chrishti described a statement from the Pakistani government as its first acknowledgment of the existence of the Quetta Shura.
This section needs to be updated.May 2011)(
In February 2010, in a possible change in Pakistani policy, several members of the Quetta Shura were detained at various locations in Pakistan. Top Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar who runs the Shura was captured in Karachi in a joint operation by Inter-Services Intelligence and Central Intelligence Agency. He had reportedly gone to Karachi to meet other Shura leaders who had moved to this city in recent months. A few days later two more members of the Quetta Shura, Mullah Abdul Kabir and Mullah Mohammed Yunis, the Taliban’s shadow governor of Zabul Province, were detained by Pakistani intelligence. They will be handed over to Kabul if they have not committed crimes in Pakistan.
Analysts are split on the question of why Pakistan has now moved against these key leaders. Many say that Pakistan has decided it wants to control any negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government. However, according to The News International, the Pakistani establishment, in a major policy shift, had decided not to support the Shura and had arrested 9 of the 18 key members within a period of 2 weeks. The policy shift was made after pressure from the US as well as a request from the Saudi Royal family
Coalition efforts at negotiations
In November 2009, it was reported that the British were pushing for talks between the Afghan government and the Shura. 'Major General Richard Barrons said negotiations with the senior echelons of the Afghan Taliban leadership council – the Quetta shura – were being looked at, alongside the reintegration of insurgency fighters into civilian life. In his first interview since arriving in Afghanistan to begin talks with "moderate" Taliban fighters, Barrons said British officials were backing extensive talks between Karzai's government and the Quetta shura, which is led by Mullah Omar and is responsible for directing much of the fighting against British forces in Helmand province.'
Early January 2010, some commanders from the Quetta Shura held secret exploratory talks with Kai Eide to discuss peace terms, as emerged end of that month during the International Conference on Afghanistan in London. The Shura had sought a meeting with the United Nations envoy, which took place in Dubai on January 8, 2010. This was the first such meeting between the UN and alleged senior members of the Taliban, suggesting that peace talks had revived since exploratory contacts between emissaries of the Kabul government and the Taliban in Saudi Arabia in 2009 broke down. It was not clear how significant a faction had showed up in Dubai or how serious they were. A western official confirmed that there were indications of splits in the Taliban over the prospect of a settlement. Supporters of former presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah predicted that negotiations could fail because the Karzai government was too weak, and other critics warned that trying to buy off insurgents created a "moral hazard" of rewarding combatants who had killed Western troops and local civilians. Taliban sources denied that there had been such a meeting and dismissed them as baseless rumors.
According to The News International, Pakistani security officials had previously regarded Afghanistan's Taliban, the Quetta Shura, and Tehrik-e-Taliban as three separate entities. They reported that Pakistani security officials had changed their policy in early 2010, and had decided to treat all three organizations as one organization, and to crack down on the Quetta Shura. The reported Nine of its eighteen leaders were captured in late February and early March 2010.
In August 2019, some Taliban leaders, including Taliban emir Hibatullah Akhunzada's brother Hafiz Ahmadullah, were killed in a bomb blast at the Khair Ul Madarais mosque, which had served as the main meeting place of the Taliban, on the outskirts of Quetta.
On 29 May 2020, it was reported that Mullah Omar's son Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob was now acting as leader of the Taliban after numerous Quetta Shura members where infected with COVID-19. It was previously confirmed on 7 May 2020 that Yaqoob had become head of the Taliban military commission, making him the insurgents' military chief. Among those infected in the Quetta Shura, which continued to hold in-person meetings, were Hibatullah and Sirajuddin Haqqani.
|Mullah Mohammed Omar||
|Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor|
|Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada|
|Mullah Sirajuddin Haqqani||
|Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar|
|Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir|
|Mullah Abdul Rauf|
|Mullah Mir Muhammad|
|Mullah Abdul Salam|
|Maulvi Abdul Kabir|
|Mullah Muhammad Hassan|
|Mullah Ahmad Jan Akhundzada|
|Mullah Muhammad Younis|
|Mullah Hassan Rehmani|
|Hafiz Abdul Majeed|
|Amir Khan Muttaqi||
|Agha Jan Mutasim||
|Mullah Abdul Jalil||
|Mullah Abdul Latif Mansoor|
|Mullah Abdur Razaq Akhundzada||
|Agha Jan Motasim|
- War in North-West Pakistan
- War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
- International Security Assistance Force
- Haqqani network
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According to well-informed diplomatic circles in Islamabad, the decision-makers in the powerful Pakistani establishment seem to have concluded in view of the ever-growing nexus between the Pakistani and the Afghan Taliban that they are now one and the same and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Quetta Shura Taliban (QST) could no more be treated as two separate Jihadi entities.
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