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Does Mullah Omar's Death Give Pakistan The Upper Hand?

Supporters of Jamiat Nazariyati pray for late Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar in Quetta, Pakistan.
Supporters of Jamiat Nazariyati pray for late Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar in Quetta, Pakistan.

Official confirmations of the death of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar have generated a vibrant media discussion about the future of the Taliban and the country's security situation.

On July 29 President Ashraf Ghani confirmed that Mullah Omar died in April 2013 in Pakistan. The president's claim contradicted an earlier statement issued under Mullah Omar's name three days after the Eid holiday that asserted that accomplishing a goal through political activities is legitimate in Islam. This was a divergence from Mullah Omar's long-held belief that the Taliban's grievances could only be addressed through military means.

"Mullah Muhammad Omar's death will weaken the Taliban, and they will divide into several factions. Although Pakistan’s intelligence agency lays out goals and objectives for the Taliban, Mullah Omar with his mysterious life played a major role in unifying the Taliban," Mohammadullah Babrak, an expert on political affairs, said in a roundtable discussion on Tolo News.

Wahid Mozdah, an expert on political affairs, said Mullah Omar’s death will exacerbate the activities of the Islamic State (IS) in the region. Some Taliban will rise in revenge for the death of Mullah Omar, and some will join IS, he added.

Mozdah, a diplomat under the Taliban regime, added that conflicts over Taliban leadership will escalate. Fifteen hundred clerics appointed Mullah Omar as the leader of the righteous, Mozdah said. Now, the Taliban doesn't have anyone to replace him.

Botched Negotiations

Meanwhile, Abdul Qayoom Sajjadi, a member of the House of Representatives of Afghanistan, participated in a roundtable on Ariana News TV where he described the news of Mullah Omar's death as questionably timed, as it emerged just when peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban were intensifying.

Sajjadi accused Pakistan of using Mullah Omar’s death to derail the Afghan government's peace talks with the Taliban.

Liaqat Ali Amini, an expert on political affairs, said Pakistan would benefit from confirming Mullah Omar's demise: "In the negotiations, the Taliban will pay more attention to the demands of Pakistan. On the other hand, Pakistan will see the emergence of the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq as beneficial for its military policies in the region."

"With Mullah Muhammad Omar’s death, the government of Afghanistan will become more optimistic about the peace process, thinking the Taliban will fight one another and some will join the government," Nazar Muhammad Mutmaen, an expert on political affairs and a former Taliban official, said on One TV.