Afghan Taliban appoint Sher Muhammad Stanekzai as head of Qatar Political Office

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KABUL: The Afghan Taliban have named a new head of their political office in Qatar, in a sign that stalled peace moves may be getting back on track. A statement said Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanekzai has been appointed by new Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor . The post has been vacant since splits appeared in August after it emerged the group's founder Mullah Omar had died. The Qatar appointment is seen as Mullah Mansoor consolidating his hold over the group - and possible peace talks. Observers have long said that Pakistan's army maintains influence over the Taliban and other militant groups, although the military denies this. The previous Taliban political head, Syed Tayyab Agha, quit in early August, criticising the way Mullah Mansoor had succeeded Mullah Omar. He said it was "a great historical mistake" that the new leader had been "appointed outside the country and from the people who are residing outside the country" - a reference to claims that the appointment had been influenced by circles associated with the Pakistani government. In early summer, Afghan government negotiators met militant representatives for two rounds of talks, facilitated by Pakistan, before dialogue was suspended. Reference Source: BBC

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