Quetta Shura

The Quetta Shura is a militant organization which is composed of the leaders of the Afghan Taliban, and believed to be based, since about 2001, within the city of Quetta in the Balochistan province of Pakistan. The Shura was formed at a time after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was toppled as part of events occurring during late 2001, the senior leadership at the time, including Mullah Mohammed Omar, proceeding to escape into Pakistan.[1][2][3][4]

History and developmentEdit

After the end of the Taliban government in 2002, a number of persons, amounting to ten individuals who had held positions in the previous government, formed a Council of Leaders (Rabbari Shura). These ten persons were: eight veteran high ranking (i.e. elite) commanders locating originally from the southern area of Afghanistan, another hailing from Paktika, and another from the provinces of Paktia. The Shura was subsequently increased in number, during March 2003, to 33 individuals. During October 2006, the Consultative Council (majlis al-shura) was formed, comprising a number of advisors to 13 core members.[5]

Accusations by Coalition ForcesEdit

Directing the insurgency in AfghanistanEdit

According to retired General of the United States Army, Stanley A. McChrystal, the Quetta Shura is directing the Afghani Taliban insurgency.[1] In a report to President Obama in 2009, he stated that it posed the greatest threat to his troops. He said, "Afghanistan's insurgency is clearly supported from Pakistan. The Quetta Shura conducts a formal campaign review each winter, after which Mullah Omar announces his guidance and intent for the following year." Americans want to extend the Drone strikes into Balochistan.[6]

In September 2009 US ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson said, "In the past, we focussed on Al Qaeda because they were a threat to us. The Quetta Shura mattered less to us because we had no troops in the region, now our troops are there on the other side of the border, and the Quetta Shura is high on Washington’s list."[7]

Funding from Persian Gulf regionEdit

The Taliban leaders raise money from wealthy Persian gulf donors and direct operations in south Afghanistan.[8] According to Lt. Gen. David Barno, the retired former commander of American forces in Afghanistan "The Quetta Shura is extremely important, they are the intellectual and ideological underpinnings of the Taliban insurgency."[8]

Support from Pakistani intelligenceEdit

American officials believe that the Quetta Shura gets support from parts of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), as some of its senior officials believe that leaders such as Mullah Omar would be valuable assets if the Taliban were to regain power after a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.[9] According to Abdul Rahim Mandokhel, a Pakistani senator from Zhob in northern Balochistan. "The whole war in Afghanistan is being launched from here," he said. He accused Pakistan's intelligence agencies of carrying out a "double" policy. "One thing is clear: the area is being used for cross-border offences," he said.[6]

A report by the London School of Economics (LSE) claimed to provide the most concrete evidence yet that the ISI is providing funding, training and sanctuary to the Taliban insurgency on a scale much larger than previously thought. The report's author Matt Waldman spoke to nine Taliban field commanders in Afghanistan and concluded that Pakistan's relationship with the insurgents ran far deeper than previously realised. Some of those interviewed suggested that the organization even attended meetings of the Taliban's supreme council, the Quetta Shura.[10][11][12] A spokesman for the Pakistani military dismissed the report, describing it as "malicious".[13][14][15]

Pakistani responseEdit


American and western officials have long complained that Pakistan has ignored the presence of senior Taliban leadership in Quetta and done little to address this situation.[8][16] Pakistani authorities have denied the existence of such an organization in Pakistan.[17] However statements by US officials have led to fears that US would launch Drone strikes on Quetta.[18] Jehan Zeb Jamaldini, senior vice president of Balochistan National Party was quoted as saying that Mullah Omar and his 2nd and 3rd tier leadership were around Quetta and would be targeted by the US.[18]


In December 2009 Pakistani government for the first time acknowledged the existence of Quetta Shura. The Defence minister of Pakistan, Ahmad Mukhtar acknowledged the presence of Quetta Shura but stated that security forces had damaged it to such an extent that it no longer posed a threat.[19]

On November 23, 2012, when Pakistan released nine senior Taliban leaders, commentator Ali K. Chrishti described a statement from the Pakistani government as its first acknowledgment of the existence of the Quetta Shura.[20]


In February 2010, in a possible change in Pakistani policy, several members of the Quetta Shura were detained at various locations in Pakistan. Top Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar who runs the Shura was captured in Karachi in a joint operation by Inter-Services Intelligence and Central Intelligence Agency.[21] He had reportedly gone to Karachi to meet other Shura leaders who had moved to this city in recent months.[22] A few days later two more members of the Quetta Shura, Mullah Abdul Kabir and Mullah Mohammed Yunis, the Taliban’s shadow governor of Zabul Province, were detained by Pakistani intelligence.[23] They will be handed over to Kabul if they have not committed crimes in Pakistan.[4]


Analysts are split on the question of why Pakistan has now moved against these key leaders. Many say that Pakistan has decided it wants to control any negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government.[24][25] However, according to The News International, the Pakistani establishment, in a major policy shift, had decided not to support the Shura and had arrested 9 of the 18 key members within a period of 2 weeks. The policy shift was made after pressure from the US as well as a request from the Saudi Royal family[26]

Coalition efforts at negotiationsEdit

In November 2009, it was reported that the British were pushing for talks between the Afghan government and the Shura. 'Major General Richard Barrons said negotiations with the senior echelons of the Afghan Taliban leadership council – the Quetta shura – were being looked at, alongside the reintegration of insurgency fighters into civilian life. In his first interview since arriving in Afghanistan to begin talks with "moderate" Taliban fighters, Barrons said British officials were backing extensive talks between Karzai's government and the Quetta shura, which is led by Mullah Omar and is responsible for directing much of the fighting against British forces in Helmand province.'[27]

Early January 2010, some commanders from the Quetta Shura held secret exploratory talks with Kai Eide to discuss peace terms, as emerged end of that month during the International Conference on Afghanistan in London. The Shura had sought a meeting with the United Nations envoy, which took place in Dubai on January 8, 2010. This was the first such meeting between the UN and alleged senior members of the Taliban, suggesting that peace talks had revived since exploratory contacts between emissaries of the Kabul government and the Taliban in Saudi Arabia in 2009 broke down. It was not clear how significant a faction had showed up in Dubai or how serious they were. A western official confirmed that there were indications of splits in the Taliban over the prospect of a settlement.[28][29] Supporters of former presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah predicted that negotiations could fail because the Karzai government was too weak, and other critics warned that trying to buy off insurgents created a "moral hazard" of rewarding combatants who had killed Western troops and local civilians.[30] Taliban sources denied that there had been such a meeting and dismissed them as baseless rumors.[31][32][33][34][35]


The Taliban's Quetta Shura is the main leadership among Afghanistan's Taliban.[36]

According to The News International, Pakistani security officials had previously regarded Afghanistan's Taliban, the Quetta Shura, and Tehrik-e-Taliban as three separate entities. They reported that Pakistani security officials had changed their policy in early 2010, and had decided to treat all three organizations as one organization, and to crack down on the Quetta Shura. The reported Nine of its eighteen leaders were captured in late February and early March 2010.

In August 2019, some Taliban leaders, including Taliban emir Hibatullah Akhunzada's brother Hafiz Ahmadullah, were killed in a bomb blast at the Khair Ul Madarais mosque, which had served as the main meeting place of the Taliban,[37] on the outskirts of Quetta.[37][38]

On 29 May 2020, it was reported that Mullah Omar's son Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob was now acting as leader of the Taliban after numerous Quetta Shura members where infected with COVID-19.[39] It was previously confirmed on 7 May 2020 that Yaqoob had become head of the Taliban military commission, making him the insurgents' military chief.[40] Among those infected in the Quetta Shura, which continued to hold in-person meetings, were Hibatullah and Sirajuddin Haqqani.[39]

name notes
Mullah Mohammed Omar
  • Founder and Spiritual leader of the Taliban
  • Former Supreme Commander of the Taliban
  • Confirmed dead in late July 2015 by the Afghan government and then Taliban officials.
Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor
Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada
Mullah Sirajuddin Haqqani
  • Current joint Deputy Leader of the Taliban[48]
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar
  • Reported captured on February 11, 2010.[36]
  • Reported to have reorganized the Afghan Taliban's military wing.[36]
Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir
  • Previously held in Guantanamo under the name Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul.[49]
  • Reported captured in late February 2010.[36]
  • Reported to remain at large, and be a candidate to replace Abdul Ghani Baradar.[49]
Mullah Abdul Rauf
  • Reported captured in late February 2010.[36]
  • Reported to have been a "former chief operational commander of the Taliban in northeastern Afghanistan".[36]
  • Also reported to be a former Guantanamo captive who was just 20 years old when initially captured.[49]
Mullah Mir Muhammad
Mullah Abdul Salam
Maulvi Abdul Kabir
Mullah Muhammad Hassan
  • Reported to have been "a former foreign minister in the Taliban regime".[36]
  • Reported captured in late February 2010.[36]
Mullah Ahmad Jan Akhundzada
Mullah Muhammad Younis
  • Reported to be an explosives expert who had served as a police chief in Kabul during the Taliban rule".[36]
  • Reported captured in late February 2010.[36]
Mullah Hassan Rehmani
Hafiz Abdul Majeed
Amir Khan Muttaqi
  • Reported to be a "former minister in Taliban regime".[36]
Agha Jan Mutasim
  • Reported to be "the Taliban’s head of political affairs".[36]
Mullah Abdul Jalil
  • Reported to be the "head of the Taliban’s shadowy interior ministry".[36]
Mullah Abdul Latif Mansoor
Mullah Abdur Razaq Akhundzada
  • Reported to be the former corps commander for northern Afghanistan.[36]
Abdullah Mutmain
  • Reported to be "a former minister during the Taliban regime who currently looks after the financial affairs of the extremist militia".[36]
Agha Jan Motasim
  • Former Taliban Finance Minister.[50][51][52]
  • Formerly chair of the political committee, stripped of this position in 2009 following rumors of corruption—may have been forced from the Shura at this time.[50][51][52]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b The Quetta Shura Taliban: An Overlooked Problem, International Affairs Review, 2009-11-23
  2. ^ Going the Distance, The Washington Post, 2009-02-15
  3. ^ Besides Mullah Baradar, several Taliban shadow governors and other senior leaders have been arrested inside Pakistan in recent weeks. Mark Mazzetti and Jane Perlez (24 Feb 2010). "CIA and Pakistan work together, but do so warily". New York Times.
  4. ^ a b Baradar is being investigated for crimes in Pakistan before being extradited. Karin Brulliard (25 Feb 2010). "Pakistan to hand over Taliban No. 2, says Afghanistan". Washington Post.
  5. ^ American Foreign Policy Council (30 Jan 2014). The World Almanac of Islamism: 2014. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 1442231440. (this text is classified: Political Science › International Relations)
  6. ^ a b Strategic Balochistan becomes a target in war against Taliban, The Guardian, 2009-12-21
  7. ^ Patterson says Quetta Shura high on US list Archived December 8, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Dawn (newspaper), 2009-09-30
  8. ^ a b c Taliban Haven in Pakistani City Raises Fears, The New York Times, 2009-02-09
  9. ^ Taliban Widen Afghan Attacks From Base in Pakistan, The New York Times, 2009-09-24
  10. ^ "BBC News - Pakistani agents 'funding and training Afghan Taliban'". BBC News. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  11. ^ "Login". Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  12. ^ "Report says Pakistan meddling in Afghanistan". Reuters. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  13. ^ "Pakistan dismisses report of continued Taliban ties". Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  14. ^ "Pakistan Denies Supporting Taliban". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  15. ^ "Pakistan's intelligence agency said to support Taliban"
  16. ^ Quetta Cantonment, GlobalSecurity.org
  17. ^ The Afghan-Pakistan militant nexus, BBC, 2009-12-01
  18. ^ a b Fear grows of US strikes in Balochistan Archived October 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Dawn (newspaper), 2009-10-12
  19. ^ Quetta shura no longer poses threat: Ahmad Mukhtar Archived December 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Dawn (newspaper), 2009-12-11
  20. ^ Ali K. Chishti (2012-11-24). "Change of heart?". The Friday Times. Archived from the original on 2012-11-28. Retrieved 2012-11-28. Pakistan acknowledged the existence of a Quetta Shura in a statement by Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar after repeated denials in December 2009.
  21. ^ Secret Joint Raid Captures Taliban’s Top Commander, The New York Times, 2010-02-15
  22. ^ Profile: Mullah Baradar - father of the roadside IED, The Times, 2010-02-16
  23. ^ Pakistani Reports Capture of Taliban Leader, The New York Times, 2010-02-22
  24. ^ Washington and Kabul hint that the ISI’s goal seems to be to weaken the Taliban just enough to bring them to the negotiating table, but leaving them strong enough to represent Pakistani interests in a future Afghan government.
  25. ^ "There has been a change in Pakistan's attitude," said Pakistani author Ahmed Rashid. "Pakistan now wants to dominate any kind of dialogue that takes place." Lyse Doucet (19 Feb 2010). "Pakistan's push for new role in Afghanistan". BBC News.
  26. ^ Pakistan wipes out half of Quetta Shura Archived March 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, The News International, 2010-03-01
  27. ^ .Afghanistan summit to plan for withdrawal, The Guardian, 29 November 2009
  28. ^ UN in secret peace talks with Taliban, The Guardian, 28 January 2010
  29. ^ "U.N. Mission Head in Afghanistan Met With Taliban Envoys ", The New York Times, 29 January 2010
  30. ^ ""UN ups ante with secret Taliban talks"".
  31. ^ "Afghan Taliban Deny Meeting with UN". VOA. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  32. ^ "Afghan Taliban deny meeting U.N. envoy". Reuters. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  33. ^ "BBC News - Afghan Taliban deny peace talks with UN's Kai Eide". Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  34. ^ ""Afghan Taliban deny meeting with UN"".
  35. ^ "Taliban denies reports that leaders met with U.N. envoy". Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  36. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Amir Mir (2010-03-01). "Pakistan wipes out half of Quetta Shura". The News International. Archived from the original on 2010-03-04. According to well-informed diplomatic circles in Islamabad, the decision-makers in the powerful Pakistani establishment seem to have concluded in view of the ever-growing nexus between the Pakistani and the Afghan Taliban that they are now one and the same and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Quetta Shura Taliban (QST) could no more be treated as two separate Jihadi entities.
  37. ^ a b "Brother of Afghan Taliban leader killed in Pakistan mosque blast". www.aljazeera.com.
  38. ^ Farmer, Ben; Mehsud, Saleem (August 16, 2019). "Family of Taliban leader killed in 'assassination attempt' on eve of historic US peace deal" – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  39. ^ a b https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/05/29/taliban-leadership-disarray-coronavirus-covid-peace-talks/
  40. ^ Ben Farmer (7 May 2020), "Taliban founder's son appointed military chief of insurgents", The Telegraph. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  41. ^ "The Quetta Shura: Understanding the Afghan Taliban's Leadership". The Jamestown Foundation. 21 February 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  42. ^ "The Afghan Taliban's top leaders". The Long War Journal. 23 February 2010. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  43. ^ "Taliban Warns ISIS to Stay Out of Afghanistan". NBC. 16 June 2015. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  44. ^ U.S. says late Taliban leader was planning attacks on Americans Reuters, 23 May 2016
  45. ^ "Afghan Taliban says Haibatullah Akhunzada is new leader". Aljazeera. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  46. ^ "Afghan Taliban: Haibatullah Akhunzada named new leader". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  47. ^ "Taliban leader Mansoor killed by U.S. drone". USAToday.com. 2016-05-21. Retrieved 2016-05-22.
  48. ^ "Taliban". 4 August 2015. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  49. ^ a b c Kathy Gannon (2010-03-04). "Former Gitmo detainee said running Afghan battles". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2010-03-04. Abdul Qayyum is also seen as a leading candidate to be the next No. 2 in the Afghan Taliban hierarchy, said the officials, interviewed last week by The Associated Press.
  50. ^ a b Kathy Gannon (2012-05-18). "Moderate Taliban member speaks of rifts within movement". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2012-05-20. One of the most powerful men on the Taliban council, Agha Jan Motasim, nearly lost his life in a hail of bullets for advocating a negotiated settlement that would bring a broad-based government to his beleaguered homeland of Afghanistan.
  51. ^ a b Sam Yousafzai, Ron Moreau (2012-04-25). "Afghanistan: A Moderate Defies the Taliban". Daily Beast. Archived from the original on May 20, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-20. Not so long ago, Agha Jan Motasim was one of the most important men in the Afghan Taliban. That was before he was sacked as head of the ruling Quetta Shura’s political committee—and before the day last August when someone pumped him full of bullets and left him for dead on a street in Karachi.mirror
  52. ^ a b "Afghan biographies: Jan, Motasim Agha". Afghan biographies. 2012-05-16. Retrieved 2012-05-20.mirror