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Mullah Haibatullah- new Taliban chief a scholar, not a soldier

Kabul: Haibatullah Akhundzada, has been elected as Afghan Taliban’s leader on Wednesday. Haibatullah is a Religious scholar Mullah and was a senior judge during the insurgent group’s five-year rule over Afghanistan and issued many of its verdicts.

Akhundzada is believed to be in his fifties, hails from Afghanistan’s southern province of Kandahar. He went on to become the group’s “chief justice” after a US-led invasion toppled the Taliban government in 2001.

Haibatullah is believed to have preferred a life of religious and legal study. He is said to have issued many of the group’s rulings on how Muslims should comply with the Taliban’s interpretation of Islam.

According to Rahimullah Yousafzai, considered the region’s foremost expert on the Taliban, Akhundzada was away in Pakistan during the 1979-89 Soviet occupation of Afghanistan — unlike Omar and Mansour, who earned reputations as fighters as part of the US-backed mujahideen.

“Though the new chief is not an experienced soldier, he has been very close to Mullah Mansour, and he is expected to continue the policies of Mullah Mansour,” said Yousafzai.

“Akhundzada was chosen to avoid further conflict and consultation,” said Islamabad-based analyst Amir Rana.