Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban leader freed from a Pakistani jail on the request of the US less than three years ago, has emerged as an undisputed victor of the 20-year war.
While Haibatullah Akhundzada is the Taliban’s overall leader, Baradar is its political chief and its most public face. He was said to be on his way from his office in Doha to Kabul on Sunday evening. In a televised statement on the fall of Kabul, he said the Taliban’s real test was only just beginning and that they had to serve the nation.
Baradar’s return to power embodies Afghanistan’s inability to escape the bloody shackles of its past. The story of his adult life is the story of the country’s unceasing, pitiless conflict.