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Mullah Omar operates Taliban from his base in Pakistan: Report

August 04, 2008 11:25 IST

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Taliban's reclusive leader Mullah Mohammad Omar is believed by Afghan and Western officials to be running the militant organisation from his base near Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province in Pakistan.

Omar runs a shadow government, complete with military, religious and cultural councils, and has appointed officials and commanders to virtually every Afghan province and district, just as he did when he ruled Afghanistan, the Taliban claim, the New York Times reported on Monday.

He oversees his movement through a grand council of 10 members, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahed told the Times in a telephone interview.

Mullah Bradar, one of the Taliban's most senior and ruthless commanders, who has been cited by human rights groups for committing massacres, serves as his first deputy.

He passes down Omar's commands and makes all military decisions, including how foreign fighters are deployed, the paper said, citing Waheed Muzhta, a former Taliban foreign ministry official who lives in Kabul and follows the progress of the Taliban through his own research.

The Taliban even produce their own magazine Al Somood published online in Arabic, where details of their leadership structure can be found, he said.

Pakistani officials say ties between their powerful spy agency Inter Services Intelligence and Taliban have been broken.

But the Times claims there is no doubt that the Taliban continues to use Pakistan to train, recruit, regroup and re-supply their movement.

The advantage of that haven in Pakistan, even beyond the lawless tribal realms, has allowed the Taliban leadership to exercise uninterrupted control of its insurgency through the same clique of mullahs and military commanders who ran Afghanistan as a theocracy and harboured Osama bin Laden until they were driven from power in December 2001, the paper noted.

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