LAHORE - Chief of Afghan Taliban Mullah Muhammad Akhtar Mansur is not willing to issue an audio or video message to give ‘proof of life’ despite being urged by other leaders to do so, The Nation has learnt.

There were unconfirmed reports that either Mansur was seriously injured or had been killed in a fire fight during a meeting of the Taliban shura somewhere near Pak-Afghan border.

“Amir ul Mumineen Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansur has not agreed to issue an audio or video message to respond to the rumours about his life,” personal aide to Taliban head, Latif Mansoor, told this paper yesterday.

Latif, who was approached thorough a contact and presented some queries by this scribe, said, “Amir ul Mumineen is of the view that there is no compulsion for him to reply to the propaganda of the stooges of the foreign powers. Let them say what they want to say.”

The refusal of Taliban to release any fresh message from their chief will definitely lend credence to reports that he’s either wounded or killed.

Rejecting reports that Taliban chief was still somewhere near the Pak-Afghan border, Latif said, “The Taliban leadership is making efforts to convince the Leader of Islamic Emirate to issue a message to bury the rumours being spread by Afghan intelligence services and their foreign associates.”

Both the Kabul and Taliban spokespersons are continuing to reject each other’s claims about the life of Mullah Akhtar Mansur. “Amir ul Mumineen is in good health and the Taliban leadership strongly refutes all claims about his life,” insisted Taliban chief’s aide.

The tribal sources in Pakistan are speculating that Taliban may be hiding the death or severe injuries to their chief, like they did in case of their previous leader, to buy time for electing a new successor to Mansur.

Mullah Akhtar Mansur had successfully concealed the death of his predecessor and Taliban founding head Mullah Muhammad Umer for two years and four months till he acquired oath of allegiance from 40-member supreme council of the Taliban to become new chief of the organisation.

According to them, Taliban commanders desire that Mansur should issue a video message to silence the rumour mongering intelligence services of Kabul and boost the morale of the commanders who are achieving successes against their enemies.

“Though the opposition to Mr Mansur by some dissidents do not pose the organisation any serious challenge but uncertainty regarding Mansur’s life is demoralising Taliban ranks and he must reveal himself or his aides should make public the news if he is critically injured,” they added.

In a statement received by this paper Afghan Taliban spokesman Qari Muhammad Yousuf said, “Some media outlets had published reports fed by Kabul intelligence circles that the leader of Islamic Emirate, Amir ul Mumineen Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansur (may Allah safeguard him), was attacked and wounded in Kuchlak city of Balochistan located at Pak-Afghan border the day before yesterday. We categorically reject this fabricated claim of the enemy intelligence apparatus.”

He added: “Amir ul Mumineen is neither present in the stated area nor any such incident occurred there. The enemy falsely claimed that the incident took place at the house of a commander named Mullah Abdullah Sarhadi, ignoring the fact that his home is not in Kuchlak region.”