ISLAMABAD - Chief of Qaumi Watan Party Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao said that the killing of Tehrik-i-Taliban Afghanistan Amir Mulla Akhtar Mansour in a drone

attack has put the ongoing quadrilateral Afghan peace process in jeopardy.

Talking to The Nation here yesterday the veteran Parliamentarian keeping sharp eye on the regional and international developments said that now the main challenge before the Taliban would be to pick a new consensus chief or at least one enjoying command over the powerful Taliban factions, which in his view would not be an easy task due to the sudden death of Mulla Akhtar Mansour. To a question, he said that Mulla Akhtar Mansour was in full command of the things when the death of Mulla Omar hit the limelight almost two years after his actual death and by the time he(Mansour) was independently handling the situation.

Even then he had to face a strong resistance from within the conglomeration of various factions which he had managed too tactfully and with the backing of certain elements, he explained.

Although Mulla Akhtar Mansour was against the peace talks with President Ashraf Ghani-led Afghan government but even then the process of quadrilateral peace talks was rolling with a hope of evolving broader agreement on certain key areas. Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao said that among the key people who could put their stake for the top slot of Taliban leadership included the son of late Mulla Omar’s son Mulla Muhammad Yaqoob, who was given key position of military Commission Chief by Mulla Akhtar Mansour to fortify his position as Taliban Amir, Mulla Omar’s brother Mulla Abdul Manan Omari and the deputy to Mansour Sirajuddin Haqqani who was also the operational commander of Taliban.

To a question, he said that majority of the Taliban factions would prefer to have the new chief from Kandahari group as majority of the powerful commanders of Taliban hails from areas falling in Kandahar while Sirajuddin Haqqani, though a very strong commander and holding a powerful position in Tehrik-i-Taliban Afghanistan but as he is not from Kandahar his acceptability among the powerful Taliban factions would be minimal, at least for the top slot.

He further informed that if Sarajuddin Haqqani would not be in the race for the top position then his support would play a vital role in pick for the new Amir.

The experts and those aware of the developments taking place on this front informed that both Mulla Muhammad Yaqoob and Mulla Abdul Manan Omari were engaged in lobbying for clinching the top position but the decision on coming up with a consensus candidate for the position seemed dim as some other powerful Taliban commanders were also in the arena.

Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao said that in the face of the sharp divide in the ranks of Taliban factions and groups the agreement on any person be it Mulla Muhammad Yaqoob, Mulla Manan, Siraj Haqqani or anyone else seemed remote and the process could stretch for several weeks if not months.

To a question he did not rule out split in Tehrik-i-Taliban Afghanistan and in that case it would have further negative fallout on the ongoing peace process sponsored by US, China and Pakistan.

Sherpao feared stepped up violence in Afghanistan particularly the Taliban operations against the US and Afghan forces would increase in the coming days with majority of Afghan Taliban groups likely to stand behind the person averse to peace negotiations and want to settle the matter in the battlefield.

To another question he saw no resumption of peace talks in near future as according to him Taliban leadership would only talk to the US and was not interested in engaging in dialogue with incumbent Afghan govt taken as puppet by them.

He underplayed the Gulbuddin Hikmatyar’s decision to join the dialogue process and said that his party was already part of the Afghan Parliament and his decision would have little bearing on the overall peace process initiated under the patronage of US, China and Pakistan.