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Kabir Taneja, Sushant Sareen, Kriti M. Shah and Saaransh Mishra, “The Kabul Dossier,” O RF Special Report No. 158 , September 2021, Observer Research Foundation.


The fall of Kabul to the Taliban is a watershed in contemporary history that will have ramifications on the prospects of the United States-led, two-decade ‘war on terror’ and the overall security situation in South Asia. The August 26th attack at Kabul’s international airport, later claimed by the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), could be a portent of what lies ahead.

The airport was then being used by the U.S. military to evacuate Americans and was also surrounded by Afghan civilians hoping to escape the country; the bombing killed some 170 of those Afghans and 13 American soldiers. In response, the US conducted a drone strike a day later in the ISKP stronghold province, Nangarhar. Washington D.C. might now have to manage security issues in Afghanistan in concert with the Taliban. This significantly alters the US’s ‘war on terror’ narrative, and places the Taliban — along with Pakistan — in a position of both strength and weakness all at once. The Taliban’s minders, both in the organisation’s Shuras[a] located in different parts of Pakistan, and those within the Pakistani Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), have plenty of work to do.

The Taliban’s task is to run a country where nearly half of its 35 million people are living in poverty. As it does so, the Taliban will have to fulfil its Doha commitment to disallow terror groups to use Afghan soil to target US personnel, interests, and allies; after all, the same deal gave it the US exit.

What the Taliban will do next, however, will depend on a myriad of factors: factional tussles, ethnic and tribal considerations, and Pakistan’s demands of the Taliban leadership. Prominent figures of the Haqqani Network — a Pakistan-supported jihadist group known for its military acumen — have already become some of the most visible faces in Kabul. The Haqqanis, known to be a critical military arm of the Taliban, have signalled to the likes of Mullah Baradar, widely expected to be the next leader of Afghanistan under Taliban rule, that they will play their cards to consolidate power within the Taliban itself. Internal power struggles within the Taliban are expected to challenge the group’s projection of itself to the world as a cohesive entity.

This report offers an overview of some of the main players that will be key in Afghanistan’s immediate future. In this dossier, ORF highlights 22 individuals who may be framing a power structure in Kabul.

To be sure, the Taliban had cut deals across ethnic, tribal and political lines before capturing Kabul. Therefore, much of its work is in convincing the international community, and not just its citizens, that it is capable of governing Afghanistan. It had already done that during the Doha talks, making overtures of “change” and of “being different”; what the international community is seeing today is a narrative wrapped in conditions vaguely described as abiding to the Sharia.[b] Indeed, as August ended, the Taliban seem to have backtracked on earlier commitments to women’s rights and empowerment despite rhetoric in the media attempting to show otherwise.

The individuals profiled in this dossier will be the kings, knights, rooks and bishops of a new chessboard being built by a Taliban-led regime in Afghanistan.

  1. Hibatullah Akhundzada: Hibatullah Akhundzada became the Supreme Commander of the Taliban in 2016 after the previous Taliban chief, Mullah Mansoor, was killed in a US drone strike.[1] He belongs to the Noorzai tribe and is a reputed Islamic scholar from Kandahar (often regarded as the spiritual capital of Afghanistan). A Pashtun in his 60s, he fought against the Soviet Union in the 1980s, just like most senior Taliban leaders.[2] He was the head of the Sharia courts during the Taliban’s earlier rule in the late 1990s. He recruited his son, Abdur Rehman, to become a suicide bomber in 2017, and cemented his place as a committed jihadist.Akhundzada is now expected to be the ideological and spiritual power centre in the new regime.[3] At the time of writing, he was yet to make a public appearance since the Taliban took control of Kabul.
  1. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar: Mullah Baradar was a co-founder of the Taliban in 1994 along with Mullah Omar, now deceased. He became a central figure in the Taliban insurgency after their regime was ousted by US forces in 2001. Baradar is known to be from an affluent and influential background, and belonging to the Popalzai Durrani tribe, a Pashtun tribe. In February 2010, he was captured in a Pakistan intelligence operation in Karachi, after he was discovered to have opened a line of communication with then Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Released in 2018 on the behest of the US who was wanting him to facilitate negotiations in Doha, Baradar has remained the head of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar since 2019. He was also the first Taliban leader to directly communicate with a US president, when he had a telephonic conversation with Donald Trump in March 2020.[4] He is regarded as the Taliban’s main political leader, having signed the Doha agreement on their behalf. He is likely to become the next political leader of Afghanistan, as the head of the Taliban.[5]
  1. Sirajuddin Haqqani (aka Khalifa): Sirajuddin Haqqani is the chief of the Haqqani network — a group considered semi-autonomous within the Taliban’s fold, owing to their financial and military strength as well as their reputation for ruthlessness.[6] The group was founded by his father, Jalaluddin Haqqani, in the 1980s during the war against the Soviet Union. He pledged allegiance to the Taliban in 1995. The Haqqanis come from the Zadran Pashtun tribe, from Afghanistan’s Paktia Province with strong networks inside Pakistan’s North Waziristan region. He became the head of the Haqqani Network after his father’s demise in 2018 and currently remains on the FBI’s list of ‘most wanted’.[7] The Haqqani Network manages the Taliban’s military assets in their bases along with their borders with Pakistan. While it is unclear what role Sirajuddin will exactly play in the new dispensation, the network is expected to act as a serious player in Taliban’s political project. The Haqqanis are reportedly already in-charge of Kabul’s security since the Taliban took control.[8]
  1. Zabihullah Mujahid: Zabihullah Mujahid has long served as an official spokesperson for the Taliban. Mujahid claims to be from Afghanistan’s Paktia Province, and was educated in Pakistan’s Darul Uloom Haqqania madrasa.[9] Even though he had amassed a sizeable social-media following over the years, Mujahid presented himself to the public for the first time only after the Taliban captured Kabul. He is believed to have overseen a massive public relations operation that coordinated press releases, interviews, and outreach with journalists. It is also believed that Mujahid and his team managed an impressive network of WhatsApp groups where they delivered real-time updates directly to the media. During the last few days of the Taliban offensive, it was Mujahid who was making announcements on Twitter every time a city fell to the Taliban. He is expected to be named minister of information and culture.[10]
  1. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar: Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is the founder of the Hezb-i-Islami militia, a former mujahideen leader, and was appointed Prime Minister of Afghanistan in the 1990s. He belongs to the Kharoti tribe of the Ghilji Pashtun, and earned the nickname “Butcher of Kabul” after laying siege on Kabul when multiple players were vying for control of Afghanistan.[11] He heads one of Afghanistan’s most notorious jihadi groups, had expressed support for the late al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin laden, was known to have endorsed suicide bombings, and was featured on the United Nations Security Council list of terrorists up until 2017.[12] After 9/11, Hekmatyar is known to have taken refuge in Iran and Pakistan. In 2017 he returned to Kabul after signing a peace deal with the Afghan government which gave him immunity. In September 2020, he again expressed his willingness to have direct talks with the Taliban in order to establish partnership and cooperation. Hekmatyar is expected to play a critical role in an eventually Taliban-led political hierarchy in Afghanistan.[13]
  1. Abdullah Abdullah: Dr Abdullah Abdullah is a Tajik-Pashtun politician who was Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Afghanistan appointed in 2014 till he was named Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation in May 2020. He gained prominence in the 1990s due to his close relationship with the anti-Taliban group Northern Alliance’s famed former leader Ahmed Shah Masood. Later, he was Hamid Karzai’s closest challenger in the presidential race of 2009 and was narrowly outmanoeuvred by Ashraf Ghani in 2014, only after a US intervention brokered a power-sharing deal between him and Ghani. He served as foreign minister in the government headed by the Northern Alliance before the Taliban took over in 1996, as well as in former president Hamid Karzai’s administration before resigning in 2006.[14] Abdullah has been in Kabul since the Taliban takeover, initiating dialogue with the group along with Hamid Karzai.
  1. Mohammad Yaqoob: Mohammad Yaqoob or Mullah Yaqoob is the 31-year-old son of the Taliban co-founder and ideologue Mullah Omar. Yaqoob belongs to the Hotak tribe, a branch of the Ghilzai clan. He became the deputy leader for military operations in 13 provinces under the Taliban’s ‘western zone’ and is believed to be responsible for supervising the vast network of shadow governors and battlefield commanders who execute the Taliban’s strategic operations through the military commission.[15] There is speculation regarding his exact role: some analysts argue that he would mainly be a spiritual leader, while others suggest he is next only to Hibatullah Akhundzadah in the Taliban’s ideological hierarchy. Yaqoob is also known to have resisted the appointment of Mullah Mansour as his father’s successor in 2015.[16]
  1. Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai: Sher Mohammad “Sheru” Stanikzai, one of the Taliban’s most powerful figures, was a cadet at the prestigious Indian Military Academy in Uttarakhand’s Dehradun in the early 1980s. In 2020, he was initially appointed to lead the negotiating team to discuss peace with the Afghan government, but later it was announced that he would be Abdul Hakim’s deputy.[17] He served with the Afghan Army and fought the Soviet-Afghan War before joining the Taliban in 1996. During the Taliban’s first rule from 1996 to 2001, he served as deputy minister of foreign affairs and later deputy minister of health. He travelled to Washington DC in 1996, to ask then US President Bill Clinton’s administration to extend diplomatic recognition to the Taliban; he would become the group’s most important negotiator in the years that followed.[18] Stanikzai has run the Taliban’s political office in Doha since 2012 and led negotiations on the Taliban’s behalf until Abdul Ghani Baradar returned in 2019.
  1. Mawlawi Mahdi: Mawlawi Mahdi, a Shiite cleric and militia leader, was the first from Afghanistan’s minority Shia Hazara community to be named shadow governor by the Taliban after he was appointed as the same for Balkhab District of the Sar-e-Pul Province in northern Afghanistan. The appointment was considered significant because the Hazaras are barely represented in the viscerally anti-Shia insurgent movement and are seen to be an obstacle to the Taliban’s ambitions of presenting itself as having nation-wide clout.[19] Mahdi is reported to be responsible for a number of attacks on Afghan government forces, as well as incidents of abduction and extortion, and has served six years in prison on criminal charges. After his release in 2018, he was sent to Balkhab by Afghan politician Mohammed Mohaqeq as his ‘viceroy’ and ended up establishing himself as a warlord in the region.[20]
  1. Anas Haqqani: Anas Haqqani, a top member of the Haqqani network, is the youngest son of Jalaluddin Haqqani and younger brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani. He was sentenced to death by an Afghan Court in 2016, but was released by the Afghan government in exchange for the Taliban’s release of Western captives in 2019.[21] Anas is currently leading efforts to form a government in Kabul following the collapse of the Afghan government. He is one of the chief Taliban negotiators, and has met with various groups and leaders including former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, former peace negotiator Abdullah Abdullah, former mujahideen commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and even with the Afghanistan Cricket Board.[22]
  1. Ahmad Massoud: Ahmad Massoud is the son of Ahmed Shah Massoud, the man who led the resistance against the Taliban from his stronghold in Panjshir Valley through the Northern Alliance which he founded alongside Abdul Rashid Dostum in the 1990s. Ahmad was educated at the Royal Military College in Sandhurst in Britain and King’s College London. He also earned a degree in War Studies before returning to Afghanistan in 2016. Ahmad Massoud today leads the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan and commands a militia in Panjshir valley.[23] In an opinion piece for The Washington Post published on 18 August 2021, he wrote that his group and its mujahideen fighters are once again prepared to take on the Taliban just like his father did and that the West should help them in consolidating forces against the Taliban. Media reports also say that Massoud is in touch with the Taliban via religious leaders of Panjshir in an effort to find middle ground.[24]
  1. Hamid Karzai: Hamid Karzai led the first Afghan government after the Taliban were ousted in 2001 and served as president until 2014. Karzai belongs to the Popalzai Pashtun tribe — the same as Mullah Baradar. He completed his early education in Kabul and later earned a Master’s degree from Himachal Pradesh University in Shimla in the 1980s. Even before the US invasion after 9/11, Karzai had kept a lengthy career in politics when he aligned himself with different groups and mediated rival Afghan factions. He fought in the war against the Soviets, was the deputy foreign minister in the early 1990s, and was asked by the Taliban to be one of their ambassadors in 1996 — an offer he declined.[25] Since the Taliban takeover, Karzai has been leading efforts towards a peaceful transfer of power. Earlier, according to anecdotal accounts, Karzai had approached Mullah Baradar for reconciliation talks — that led to Baradar’s arrest in Pakistan. His father, Abdul Ahad Karzai, was killed by two Taliban gunmen outside a mosque in Quetta, Pakistan, in 1999.[26]
  1. Amrullah Saleh: Amrullah Saleh was elected the first vice-president of Afghanistan in 2019, and has declared himself the ‘caretaker president’ after Ashraf Ghani fled the country. Saleh hails from the Tajik-dominated Panjshir valley and was a member of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance during the civil war of the 1990s.[27] In 1997, Northern Alliance Chief Ahmed Shah Massoud appointed Saleh as the head of the United Front’s International Liaison Office at the Embassy of Afghanistan in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. His prominent entry into Afghan politics happened in 2004, when he was appointed chief of Afghanistan’s newly formed intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS). In 2010, he resigned as intelligence chief following an attack at a Kabul Peace Conference. Following Ghani’s appointment as president in 2014, Saleh served as Interior Minister but resigned in 2019 to run for the September elections.[28] He is expected to play an important role in future Afghanistan, owing to his ongoing efforts to build a resistance front yet again to fight the Taliban after having reportedly joined hands with Ahmad Massoud in Panjshir.[29]
  1. Sheikh Abdul Hakim: Abdul Hakim is a hard-line cleric, who until recently ran an Islamic madrasa in the Ishqabad area of Quetta, from where he led the Taliban’s judiciary and headed a powerful council of Taliban clerics in-charge of issuing religious edicts.[30] Hakim is widely respected for his religious credentials, ranking alongside Mullah as one of the most senior religious leaders of the Taliban. He lay low for many years, until 2020 when he was appointed as Taliban’s chief negotiator for the peace talks in Qatar.[31]
  1. Fazil Akhund: US intelligence suggests that Fazil Akhund was born in 1967 in Charchno, Afghanistan. He served as Taliban’s Deputy Minister of Defense in the 1990s and was reportedly responsible for the killings of several Shiites and Tajik Sunnis in central and northern Afghanistan between 1996 and late 2001. He was sent to the Guantanamo Bay detention camp on 11 January 2002 and was released on 31 May 2014, along with four other members of the so-called “Taliban five” in exchange for the release of US soldier Bowe Bergdahl.[32]
  1. Qari Fasihuddin: Qari Fasihuddin is a Tajik fighter who had quickly risen up the Taliban ranks. He was previously known to be the shadow governor of Badakshan province, which shares a border with both Tajikistan and China. Sometimes known as the “conqueror of the north”, Fasihuddin was given the charge as Taliban’s military commander in Panjshir, the province continuing to resist the Taliban under Amrullah Saleh and Ahmad Massoud. The Taliban’s gains made in northern Afghanistan have been one of its biggest strategic victories over the past few months.
  1. Haji Yousef Wafa: Haji Yousef Wafa is known to be the new commander for the Taliban for Kandahar, the insurgency’s spiritual home. Wafa played a crucial role in the Taliban’s gains in southern Afghanistan. Under Wafa, sons of prominent Taliban leaders have been known to operate in the battlefield in the country’s southern provinces.
  1. Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud: Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud is the current leader of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a position he was appointed to in June 2018 after the death of the former leader Maulana Fazulullah in a US drone strike in North Waziristan. Operations by the Pakistan army, and internal power politics, caused the TTP to lay dormant for a few years. In 2020, there were signs that the TTP splinter groups were reunifying under Mehsud’s leadership. Since then, the group has executed a number of violent attacks across Pakistan against Chinese assets and projects in the country, including a bombing at a hotel in Quetta that targeted the Chinese ambassador.[33] Mehsud is blacklisted by the UN Security Council, with sanctions imposed on him for “financing, planning, facilitating, or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf of, or in support of” groups associated with al-Qaeda.[34] He is the author of the book, ‘Inquilab Mehsud’, detailing the ‘jihad’ of the Mehsud tribe against the imperialists. He congratulated the Afghan Taliban for capturing Kabul and renewed his pledge to Haibutuallah Akhundzada.
  1. Hafiz Gul Bahadur: Hafiz Gul Bahadur is a TTP leader who commands the TTP forces in North Waziristan. He served as the first deputy of TTP founder Baitullah Mehsud. Given that Bahadur was responsible for facilitating negotiations between the TTP and the Pakistani government in 2006 and 2008, it was believed that he was pro-Pakistan government as both the Pakistan military and Taliban leaders continued to woo him.[35] He is credited to have united the Uthmanzai Wazir and the Daur tribes in North Waziristan, providing a united group unlike in South Waziristan where Taliban groups remained divided along tribal lines. His leadership in North Waziristan allowed him to challenge Mehsud’s leadership, after Mullah Omar, the then leader of the Afghan Taliban instructed the TTP to focus their resources on Afghanistan rather than Pakistan. At the time, Bahadur distanced himself from the group and later reunited with Mehsud to coordinate their actions in Afghanistan under Mullah Omar’s instructions.[36] Following Operation Zarb e-Azb — the Pakistan military’s operations against militant groups which began in 2014 in the country’s North Waziristan area — militants under Bahadur’s command have been targeted by Pakistani forces over the years given their strength in the tribal areas and their affiliation with the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network.
  1. Maulvi Faqir Mohammad: Maulvi Faqir Mohammad is a senior TTP leader who is a known facilitator for al-Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas. He headed the TTP in Bajaur area where some of the toughest fighting took place with the Pakistan Army which launched Op Sherdil. In 1993, he and his family were responsible for creating the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat Mohammadi, a movement to implement Sharia law in the tribal regions of Pakistan. While Faqir fought for the Taliban at the time, his knowledge of the tribal areas and influence in the region, along with his ideological commitment to Islamic militancy, made him invaluable to al-Qaeda in the aftermath of the fall of the Taliban in 2001.[37] He was captured in 2013 by the National Directorate of Security in Afghanistan, and freed by the Taliban on 17 August 2021.[38]
  1. General Qamar Javed Bajwa: General Bajwa is the current Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan army. He was appointed in November 2016 and succeeded General Raheel Sharif. Gen. Bajwa was previously the Inspector General for Training and Evaluation at the GHQ, where he served as Principal Staff Officer to Raheel Sharif. He was also the Commander of the 10 Corps in Rawalpindi, which is responsible for Kashmir.[39] Under his command, the Pakistan army launched its nationwide counter-terrorism operation Radd-ul-Fassad in February 2017. After a slight skirmish with the Supreme Court — where the court suspended the government’s decision to extend Gen. Bajwa’s tenure — the Government of Pakistan extended Bajwa’s tenure for three years until November 2022, after the National Assembly passed a law that cleared the way for the same.
  1. Lt. General Faiz Hameed: Lt. Gen Hameed was appointed Chief of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in June 2019. He has had close ties with General Bajwa since 2010, when they were both posted to the 10 Corps. Hameed’s appointment as head of the intelligence agency came as a surprise after he replaced Lt. General Asim Munir who served for a brief eight months.[40] He is said to have played a crucial role in the fixing of the 2018 general elections that saw the victory of Imran Khan’s PTI party against Nawaz Sharif.

About the Authors

Kabir Taneja is Fellow at ORF.

Sushant Sareen is Senior Fellow at ORF.

Kriti M Shah is Associate Fellow at ORF.

Saaransh Mishra is Research Assistant at ORF.


[a] Shuras are consultative councils that decide the Taliban’s course of action. The Quran encourages Muslims to decide their affairs in consultation with each other. The Rahbari Shura, also known as the Quetta Shura, situated in Quetta, Pakistan, is seen as the Taliban’s ideological and political think tank.

[b] Sharia is Islam’s legal system. It is derived from the Quran, Islam’s holy book.

[1] “Afghanistan: Who’s Who in the Leadership”,  BBC, August 18, 2021.

[2] “Who’s Mullah Baradar, Likely to Be Next Afghan President: 5 Points”, NDTV, August 18, 2021.

[3] “The Haqqani Network: Afghanistan’s most feared militants”, The Economic Times, August 21, 2021.

[4] Tom Wheeldon, “Who are the Taliban leaders ruling Afghanistan”, France 24, August 19, 2021.

[5] “What is the role of Haqqani Network: Afghanistan’s most feared militants in the new Taliban regime” Hindustan Times August 21, 2021.

[6] Matthieu Aikins and Jim Huylebroek, “The Taliban wants to forget the past, a leader tells the Times, but there will be some restrictions”, The New York Times, August 25, 2021.

[7] “For years Taliban Spokesman Operated from Shadows, Now He is in Spotlight”, NDTV, August 25, 2021.

[8] “Profile: New Taliban Chief Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada”, BBC, May 26, 2016.

[9] “Hibatullah Akhundzada to Mullah Baradar: Who’s Who of the Taliban Leadership”, Outlook India, August 20, 2021.

[10] Srinivasan Ramani, “Hibatullah Akhundzada: The Mullah Who took the Reins of Afghanistan”, The Hindu, August 21, 2021.

[11] “Afghan Warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s grandson moves on from family’s bitter past”, The Economic Times, July 07, 2021

[12] Shadi Khan Saif, “Afghanistan: Hekmatyar ready to join hands with Taliban” Anadolu Agency, September 19, 2020.

[13] “Afghanistan: Hekmatyar ready to joins hands with Taliban”.

[14] ‘Who is Abdullah Abdullah? Afghanistan’s three-times Presidential Contender BBC, September 27, 2019.

[15] Ron Synovitz, “Will the Taliban Stay United to Govern, Or Splinter into Regional Fiefdoms?, Gandhara, August 25, 2021 and Tenzin Zompa, “Akhundzada, Haqqani , Mullah Yaqoob, “The Taliban’s key leaders who could lead Afghanistan”, The Print, August 17, 2021.

[16] “Afghanistan Crisis: Who’s Who Behind The Taliban Leadership”, Livemint, August 15, 2021.

[17] “Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, a top Taliban leader once trained at Indian Military Academy”, Firstpost, August 20, 2021.

[18] “Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, a top Taliban leader once trained at Indian Military Academy”.

[19] “The Case of Mawlawi Mahdi and Balkhab District: Are The Taleban attracting Hazaras”, Afghanistan Analysts Network, May 23, 2020.

[20] Ruchi Kumar, “Taliban attempts to woo Afghanistan’s Hazara Community with new appointment”, The National News, April 27, 2020.

[21] “Afghan Government Releases Militants in Apparent Exchange for American, Australian Captives”, RFERL, November 11, 2019.

[22] Aamir Latif, “Who is in Taliban’s Haqqani Network”, Anadolu Agency, August 24, 2021.

[23] Shishir Gupta, “’The Resistance has just begun’: Ahmad Massoud, son of assassinated anti-taliban fighter calls for support”, The Hindustan Times, August 22, 2021.

[24] “Explained: Ahmad Massoud, who is building an anti-Taliban resistance”, The Indian Express, August 27, 2021.

[25] Sune Engel Rasmussen, “Afghan Ex-President Hamid Karzai Angles for National Role after Taliban Takeover”, The Wall Street Journal, August 21, 2021.

[26] Hannah Ellis-Petersen, “Former Afghan President Karzai talks with Taliban about power transfer”, The Guardian, August 18, 2021.

[27] “Explained: Who is Amrullah Saleh, who has declared himself ‘caretaker president’ of Afghanistan”, The Indian Express, August 24, 2021.

[28] Who is Amrullah Saleh, the self-proclaimed caretaker prez of Afghanistan resisting the Taliban takeover”, Times Now News, August 20, 2021.

[29] Jyoti Malhotra, “’Forever Spy’ Amrullah Saleh proclaims himself Afghan President to revive Panjshir Resistance”, The Print, August 18, 2021.

[30] Frud Bezhan, “Why did the Taliban appoint a Hard-Line Chief Negotiator for Intra-Afghan talks”, RFERL, September 10, 2020.

[31] “These are the shadowy Taliban leaders now running Afghanistan”, The Times of India, August 19, 2021.

[32]Counter Extremism Project, “Fazl Mohammad Mazloom”.

[33] Ghalib Nihad, “5 Killed, at least a dozen injured in blast at Quetta’s Serena Hotel”, Dawn, Aoril 21, 2021.

34] UNSC, “Noor Wali Mehsud”, July 16, 2020.

[35] Charlie Szrom, “The Survivalist of North Waziristan: Hafiz Gul Bahadur Biography and Analysis”, Critical Threats, August 06, 2009.

[36] Sadia Sulaiman, “Hafiz Gul Bahadur: A profile of the leader of the North Waziristan Taliban”, The Jamestown Foundation, April 10, 2009.

[37] Sohail Abdul Nasir, “Al-Zawahiri’s Pakistani ally: Profile of Maulana Faqir Mohammed”, The Jamestown Foundation, February 09, 2006.

[38] Gaurav Sawant, “Taliban Release TTP’s Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, other terrorists from Afghanistan Prisons”, India Today, August 18, 2021.

[39] “Profile of General Qamar Javed Bajwa”, The News, November 26, 2018.

[40] Ayesha Siddiqa, “New ISI Chief Faiz Hameed a manipulator picked by army chief Bajwa to be his master’s voice”, The Print, June 21, 2019.

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Kabir Taneja

Kabir Taneja

Kabir Taneja is a Fellow with Strategic Studies programme. His research focuses on Indias relations with West Asia specifically looking at the domestic political dynamics ...

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Sushant Sareen

Sushant Sareen

Sushant Sareen is Senior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation. His published works include: Balochistan: Forgotten War, Forsaken People (Monograph, 2017) Corridor Calculus: China-Pakistan Economic Corridor & China’s comprador   ...

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Kriti M. Shah

Kriti M. Shah

Kriti M. Shah was Associate Fellow with the Strategic Studies Programme at ORF. Her research primarily focusses on Afghanistan and Pakistan where she studies their ...

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Saaransh Mishra

Saaransh Mishra

Saaransh Mishra was a Research Assistant with the ORFs Strategic Studies Programme. His research focuses on Russia and Eurasia.

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