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Top Taliban defectors flee to Pakistan: Report

Top Taliban defectors flee to Pakistan: Report

Author:
Publication: The Times of India
Date: December 4, 2001

London (AFP) - In the first major split, senior Taliban officials have fled Afghanistan to set up a moderate splinter group in Pakistan, a British daily reported on Tuesday.

The dissident members believe that hardliners such as Mullah Muhammad Omar, should give up the Taliban's spiritual home of Kandahar and sue for peace, the Times said.

Ten of the 12 defectors escaped to Pakistan's North West Frontier Province where the Times said they are believed to be holding talks with Pakistani Pashtun leaders.

They will be hoping to strengthen the Pashtun bloc in postwar Afghanistan and prevent the Tajik and Uzbek- dominated Northern Alliance from seizing too much power.

The three most important dissidents are Mullar Abdul Kadir, the former governor of Nangarhar province -- considered to be the number 3 in the Taliban hierarchy -- Mullar Amir Khan Muttaqi, the former education minister, and Abdul Rehman Zahid, the former deputy foreign minister.

Taliban sources quoted in Pakistani English-language paper The News and also in the Times accused the dissidents of betrayal and treachery.

"They have deserted at a time when Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders are fighting in Kandahar despite the difficulties," said one senior Taliban leader.

The other defectors according to the paper included, Abdul Hakim Mujahid, a former Taliban representative in New York, and Maulvi Hadi, the former governor of the eastern province of Kunar.

The rest, listed in the papers, were senior Taliban officials
 


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