A scholar...

Pakistan Observer - - IN­TER­NA­TIONAL -

is said to have is­sued many of the group’s rul­ings on how Mus­lims should com­ply with the Tal­iban’s ex­treme in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Is­lam.

Ac­cord­ing to Rahimul­lah Yousafzai, con­sid­ered the re­gion’s fore­most ex­pert on the Tal­iban, Akhundzada was away in Pak­istan dur­ing the 1979-89 Soviet oc­cu­pa­tion of Afghanistan — un­like Omar and Man­sour, who earned rep­u­ta­tions as fight­ers as part of the US-backed mu­jahideen.

It is un­clear whether he will fol­low Man­sour in shun­ning peace ne­go­ti­a­tions with the Afghan gov­ern­ment. An­a­lysts be­lieve he will be more heav­ily re­liant on his shura (coun­cil) than Omar and Man­sour and will need to rule by con­sen­sus.

In terms of age and se­nior­ity, he was sec­ond only to Tal­iban co-founder Mul­lah Ab­dul Ghani Baradar, whom many sources had be­lieved was in con­tention for the lead­er­ship de­spite his re­ported de­ten­tion by Pak­istani au­thor­i­ties. “Akhundzada was cho­sen to avoid fur­ther con­flict and con­sul­ta­tion,” said Is­lam­abad­based an­a­lyst Amir Rana.

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