Taliban leader calls-off meeting with Imran Khan fears division: Sources

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Photo: Moscow Peace talks

ISLAMABAD– According to multiple sources the Afghan Taliban leader has cancelled its schedule meeting with Prime minister of Pakistan Mr. Imran Khan. 

This comes at a time when the Taliban were scheduled to meet the US envoy for peace Zalmay Khalilzad and PM Imran Khan. 

On the “formal invitation of the government of Pakistan, another meeting is scheduled to take place between the negotiation teams of the Islamic Emirate and the US on 18th of February, 2019 in Islamabad,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement.

The Taliban’s delegation would also meet Prime Minister Imran Khan, the statement said.

Journalist Sami Yousufzai tweeted on his twitter that “Taliban leader tell me “Taliban supreme leader Haibatullah disagreed with Taliban meeting MP Imran Khan and Zalmay Khalilzad in Pakistan , as result meeting cancelled.”
He also posted that “Taliban supreme leader Mula Haibatullah may dissolve latest announcement of Taliban new negotiation team may discharge Amir Khan Motaqi ,Zabih Mujahid ,Mullah Abas Akhond,Mullah Hasan Babar etc for making new appointments without consultation & releasing Pak PM meeting to media”. 
Sources privy to the peace talks told the Afghan Herald that one of the main reasons to delay Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s visit to Pakistan for two days was to meet with the Taliban representatives. 
 

The Growing Pressure and Divide

After the Taliban decided to visit Pakistan and meet PM Imran Khan, the group has come under an immense criticism and pressure. It has also divided the Taliban on two groups one that was in favour of meeting PM Khan while the other was strongly opposed to the scheduled meeting. 

According to reports, those who opposed the meeting are most notabley Mullah Gul Agha Akhwand, Mullah Fazel Akhwand, and Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa and other military commanders on the ground. While the group who supported and lobbied the meeting with Pakistani leadership was led by Amir Khan Mutaqi and other Taliban members that are close to Pakistan. 

The Taliban have also come under intense criticism on social media. Many Afghans termed them as the “puppets” of Pakistan. 

Both the Taliban and the US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad are scheduled to meet at Doha, Qatar to resume peace talks. So far, the insurgent group has rejected meeting with the Afghan government. 

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