Why did Mullah Akhtar Mansour choose Karachi as his residence?

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“Karachi, with its large businesses, moneyed residents and huge Pashtun population, has proved fertile ground not only for the Pakistani Taliban, but also for the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda” reads a report title “ exposing the Karachi-Afghanistan link” by Zia ur Rehman, Karachi based researcher and Journalist.

By Naimat Khan

KARACHI: A frequent flyer and recurrent visitor, the actual stay of Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, in Karachi is hard to be known, however, the seaside Pakistani metropolis had been ‘favorable residence’ for the Afghan Taliban over past so many years, security analysts say.

The Taliban Chief was killed in American drone strike on Saturday in restive Balochistan province, the White House confirmed on Monday.

Later, a Pakistani Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC) and passport of Wali Muhammad – identified by US authorities as Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, the Afghan Taliban Chief – showed the victim of drone attack was permanent resident of Balochistan’s Qilla Abdullah, who was currently resided in Karachi’s Gulizar-e-Hijri area where he also owned an apartment.

When contacted by The Frontier Post a day earlier, Maulana Ghayas, chief cleric of the adjacent mosque and JUI-F leader, who is believed to have maintained close relationships with Afghan Taliban, said no person named Wali Muhammad or the one shown on TV screens was known to him.

But Nadra record confirms that Wali Muhammad was current resident of Karachi’s Bismillah Apartment, where he owned Flat Number B-016.

A local elder Jehanzeb Burki says that the Gulzar-e-Hijri was a perfect ‘house’ for the Taliban leader because despite being a mix neighborhood it was not a strange place for the people wearing same outfits as that of the person believed to be Taliban leader.

“Wali Muhammad had both Karachi and Balochistan connections – having Balochistan as his permanent whereas Karachi current residence on his CNIC – which many people in area do have,” Burki said.

“Even if he had lived here he would have hardly been recognized,” Burki believes, adding that many people of Afghan Taliban have taken refuge in the area for getting medical treatment in Karachi in the past.

“Karachi, with its large businesses, moneyed residents and huge Pashtun population, has proved fertile ground not only for the Pakistani Taliban, but also for the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda” reads a report title “ exposing the Karachi-Afghanistan link” by Zia ur Rehman.

According to Rehman, the arrests of high-profile Afghan Taliban leaders in Karachi in the past have corroborated the reports that the Afghan Taliban is using Karachi as an organizational hub, and for hideouts and rest and recuperation.

“Mullah Abdul Ghani Biradar, the second-in-command to Taliban leader Mullah Omar, was arrested in Karachi in February 2010 in a joint raid by Pakistani and U.S. intelligence agencies,” he said.

According to a report in ‘Fox news’ Pakistani authorities had arrested Akhunzada Popalzai, also known as Mohammad Younis, a former Taliban shadow governor in Zabul and former police chief in Kabul, Ameer Muawiya, the Afghan Taliban’s liaison officer for al-Qaeda militants and Abu Hamza, who served as a former Afghan army commander in Helmand province from Karachi.

In august 2011 Agha Jan, the Afghan Taliban’s former finance minister was wounded in an attack in Karachi.  According to Rehman,  Mullah Jalil, former Afghan deputy foreign minister and a lieutenant of Taliban leader Mullah Omar, along with two of his close Afghan associates, was also arrested somewhere in Karachi in 2004.

According to the report Mullah Obaidullah Akhund, the former Taliban defence minister had visited Karachi to meet his relatives a week before his arrest in Quetta in March 2007.

Akhund later died of cardiac arrest in a Karachi jail on March 5th 2010.

“According to Afghan tribal elders, all three key factions of the Afghan Taliban – the Quetta Shura, led by Mullah Omar; the Haqqani Network, led by Jalaluddin Haqqani; and Hizb-i-Islami, led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar – operate in Karachi. However, Quetta Shura-linked Afghan militants have the largest presence in the city”, the report reads.

Over the past few years members of the Quetta Shura have been reported to be relocating to Karachi to avoid potential U.S. airstrikes, Rehman adds.

There were also rumors of Mullah Omar’s presence in Karachi and some section of press reported that he had breathed last in Karachi’s hospital, though such reports couldn’t be verified.

Published In The Frontier Post 

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Author: Naimat

Karachi based journalist, writing on national and international issues.

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