Taliban Leaders’ Duel Goes Next Level with Supreme Leader Questioning Group’s Government

Taliban interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani (Left), supreme leader Hibatullah Akundzada (Centre) and defence minister Mullah Yaqoob (Right).

Guess what? In what seems to be a clear power struggle among the Taliban leadership, a new audio clip has been leaked from the Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada in which he strongly criticized the Taliban government in Afghanistan.


Go deeper:

  • In the audio clip, the Taliban leader has said that instead of being a government, the group’s rule is more focused on securing deals. Akhundzada said that this deal-making government is not in the interest of Muslims and stressed that only a few people benefit from the deals.
  • The Taliban leader urged the group to give up on their demands and submit to the Sharia law.
  • He also mentioned that superiority and personal consideration lead to instability.
  • The Taliban leader added that instability in the previous government had been due to personal considerations of individuals.


Take note: The Taliban leader also discussed the Sharia law in Afghanistan. In this audio file, the leader of the Taliban asked the group’s members to implement the Sharia law.

  • He said, “If there is no Sharia law in your home, how can you claim that you are implementing Sharia law in the country?” If there is no Sharia in your administration, if there is no Sharia in your body, how can people accept your claim that you implement the Sharia of God and the religion of God on earth.”
  • It is for the first time since taking power that the Taliban leader has been heard to bluntly criticize senior leaders of the group and accused them of being self-centered, and superior. However, the date of speech of the Taliban leader is not clear and the place of the speech where it has been delivered is also unknown.


Back story: In recent weeks, the Taliban leaders in Kabul have publicly criticized the monopolization of power within the group and without mentioning the Taliban leader, they have been blunt in criticizing his actions.

  • Earlier, Sirajuddin Haqqani, the Taliban’s interior minister, had criticized the monopolization of power in the leadership of the Taliban and said that such behavior is unacceptable. According to Haqqani, the current situation increases the rifts between the Taliban government and the Afghan people.
  • Haqqani also widely criticized Taliban members, saying that they only think about their “personal interests”. The speech had been delivered in the stronghold of the Haqqanis in Khost province. During the speech, Haqqani said that in contrast to now, during the time that he calls the Jihad of the Taliban, religion remained firm by religious scholars.
  • Addressing the Taliban, he stressed, “Let’s not behave in such a way that people hate religion.” This Taliban senior official urged members of the group not to be arrogant and understand others. He also said, “We are all questioned because of extremism. This [extremism] is not worthy of us.”
  • Mullah Yaqoob, the Taliban’s defense minister, had also said that pride and arrogance should be put aside and the will of the people should be accepted. Yaqoob asked the Taliban leadership to preserve the Taliban political system.
  • Even, Abdul Salam Hanafi, the Taliban’s Deputy Prime Minister, said that without a strong educational system, the Taliban cannot claim of having an independent country. Hanafi went ahead to say that it was the duty of a religious leader not to say what is forbidden, but to also introduce an alternative.
  • These sharp criticisms come at a time when the Taliban’s supreme leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada, who has not been seen in public and the Kandahar circle, is against the education of girls and has so far been able to impose his decisions on the cabinet of the group in Kabul.


Zoom out: However, despite these differences, the group is claiming to portray a rosy image to the global stage. As on Thursday itself, the group’s main spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid stated that senior leaders and ministers of the Taliban government had come to Kandahar to meet the supreme leader Akhundzada.

  • The group’s interior and defense ministers met Akhundaza in Kandahar city and several religious scholars had been present too.
  • This was the first meeting of senior Taliban officials with the leader of the group after the recent public differences among the Taliban leadership. The Taliban spokesperson, however, has not given details of the meeting and talking points of the Taliban leaders and the two ministers.
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