Abdul Ghani Baradar, the co-founder of the Taliban and a key leader of the group, touched down in Afghanistan on Tuesday for the first time in more than 10 years, just days after the insurgent group captured the capital city of Kabul and effectively toppled the Afghan government.
Baradar traveled to Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban and the second largest city in Afghanistan, according to The Washington Post. The insurgent group seized the provincial capital on Thursday, a massive gain in its offensive throughout Afghanistan.
Baradar founded the Taliban in he 1990s with fellow leader Mohammad Omar in the 1990s. He had previously fought the Soviet occupation of the country. Omar died in 2013.
Haibatullah Akhundzada is the supreme commander of the Taliban, but Baradar is its most public leader. He has been on the Taliban's negotiating team in Doha, Qatar, and is the group's political leader.
The Taliban’s mission in the South Asian country reached an apex on Sunday when the group overran Kabul and infiltrated the presidential palace, unleashing chaos in the region.
The group’s ramped up offensive came as the U.S. was nearing completion of its troop withdrawal mission, which President BidenJoe BidenFighter jet escorts aircraft that entered restricted airspace during UN gathering Julian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy FBI investigating alleged assault on Fort Bliss soldier at Afghan refugee camp MORE said is set to conclude by the end of this month.
Baradar’s return to Afghanistan signaled a coalescence of the Taliban’s rule after it overran major provincial capitals in the country amid the U.S.’s withdrawal mission, the Post reported.
The group revealed a general amnesty for government officials on Tuesday, and instructed fighters to remain disciplined as Kabul remained oddly calm, the Post reported.
On the same day that Baradar arrived in Afghanistan, Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh announced on Twitter that he is “the legitimate care taker President.” He said he is inside Afghanistan and “reaching out to all leaders to secure their support & consensus.”
Clarity: As per d constitution of Afg, in absence, escape, resignation or death of the President the FVP becomes the caretaker President. I am currently inside my country & am the legitimate care taker President. Am reaching out to all leaders to secure their support & consensus.— Amrullah Saleh (@AmrullahSaleh2) August 17, 2021