According to the NYT report, when Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour , then Taliban leader, was killed in an American drone strike, he sensed hours ago that something was not right.

When he came home from a secret visit from Iran in May 2016, he called his relatives and brother while driving in a remote area of Southwestern Pakistan to let them know that he was about to die, reports claimed. 

“He knew something was happening,” a former Taliban commander, who is close to Mullah Mansour’s inner circle, said in an interview. “That’s why he was telling his family members what to do and to stay united.”

Taliban commanders do not give interviews but it was a rare case as this one agreed to sit for interview on the condition that his name and location would not be made public. This fellow agreed for interview as he had escaped from insurgent’s rank and his life was under threat.

His statements offered insights into final hours of Mullah Mansour’s life and why and how he was killed revealing dangerously widening rift with Pakistani sponsors, reported NYT.

The account was complemented and supported in interviews with two senior Afghan officials who have conducted their own investigations into the Taliban leader’s death — Haji Agha Lalai, presidential adviser and deputy governor of Kandahar; and Gen. Abdul Raziq, the police chief of Kandahar Province.

Growing number of western security analysts and Afghans on both sides of war contented after more than a year that Pakistan was the mastermind behind Mullah Mansour’s death as it wanted the removal of the Taliban leader it could not trust, according to NYT report.

“Pakistan was making very strong demands,” the former commander said. “Mansour was saying you cannot force me on everything. I am running the insurgency, doing the fighting and taking casualties and you cannot force us.”

Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada an Islamic cleric with no military experience became leader of the Taliban after the demise of Mullah Mansour . Yet Afghanistan has seen little reprieve with his death, as hard-liners within the movement took over and redoubled their offensive to take power.

There is little chance of anyone speaking out, the former commander said. “Ninety percent of the Taliban blame the Pakistanis,” he said. “But they cannot say anything. They are scared.”

While preparing for an ambitious offensive across eight provinces in Afghanistan last year, Mullah Mansour wanted to expand his sources of support, they said.

The report further claimed he relied for main financing of Taliban group on Arab Gulf states, Pakistan’s intelligence agency and Afghan drug lords. Moreover, he also sought weapons from Iran and Russia and also met with officials of both countries.

Mullah wanted to get Taliban out of the control and reach of Pakistan that’s why he formed relations with Iran, according to his former associate and Afghan officials. He wanted to negotiate peace in accordance with his terms that’s where his different views from Pakistan gained momentum, NYT said. 

Mullah Mansour had refused to follow orders from Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, to destroy infrastructure and to increase the cost of the war for the Afghan government. He opposed the promotion of Pakistan’s hard-line protégé Sirajuddin Haqqani to be his deputy, and he had dodged Pakistan’s demands to push its agenda in negotiations.

He wanted to devolve more power to regional Taliban commanders, allowing them to raise their own funds and make their own decisions, in order to own the Afghan nationalist cause and loosen Pakistan’s control over the insurgency.

Others with close knowledge of the Taliban, including the former Taliban finance minister and peace mediator Agha Jan Motasim, said that Mullah Mansour was ready to negotiate and had sent top representatives to successive meetings in Pakistan.

Mullah Mansour called on Taliban commanders and elders to gather for a meeting when he stopped in the Girdi Jungle refugee camp, a hub of Taliban activity in Pakistan while on his way to Iran.

“Ten days before he was killed he sent messages to villages and to commanders asking them to share their views on peace talks,” said General Raziq, the police chief of Kandahar Province, a fierce opponent of the Taliban, who knows the movement well.

He says that Mullah Mansour was seeking new protectors as his disagreements with Pakistan were growing.

“There were reports that he may have wanted to escape,” General Raziq said. “We knew one month before that Mansour was ready to make peace.”

General Raziq also said Mullah Mansour feared assassination by Pakistan. “He told his relatives that ‘relations with Pakistan were very bad and they might kill me.”

Mullah Mansour was alone on the day he was killed.

The trip to and from Iran was one he had taken before. He always traveled on a Pakistani passport, under a fake name, with the full knowledge of Pakistani intelligence, reported NYT. 

A former Afghan intelligence chief, who did not want to be identified while discussing sensitive aspects of relations with neighboring countries, told that Muhammad Wali was the fake identity of Mullah mansour and was also known in intelligence circles. When Mullah Mansour reached the Pakistani side of the border with Iran it was unusual to see 300 extra guards posted at the crossing and along the highway. Mullah Mansour was detained inside the border post.

He emerged after two hours and climbed into a taxi about 9 a.m. for the eight-hour drive to Quetta. Traveling alone in an ordinary taxi was typical of the Taliban leader: low-profile, but at the same time casually confident in a familiar terrain.

The former Taliban commander explained that Taliban had freedom of movement in the border regions with the tacit agreement of Pakistani security forces,. Anyone armed with a Kalashnikov, or just a walkie-talkie, could pass where ordinary civilians could not, he said.

But the reception which he received at the border was worrisome for Mullah Mansour .

According to the NYT report, he called his brother and spoke to him and family members for 45 minutes. He also called a close friend in Quetta and asked him to go around to his brother’s house with a message to expect guests that night.

He was doing what is known in Islamic Law as “wasiyat,” passing on his last wishes and taking leave.

“He was very worried about his safety,” said Mr. Lalai, the Afghan presidential adviser, who also knew of the long telephone call. “He had a conversation with his family and he gave last instructions to educate his children, on his money, most of the talk was instructions in the case of his death.”

During six hours into his journey near the small town of Ahmad Wal,hellfire missiles fired by an American drone tore into the car, first hitting the front and then striking the body.

Workers farming watermelons nearby rushed to the burning wreck and shoveled dirt on the flames but could not save the men inside, General Raziq said.

A member of Pakistan’s Frontier Corps’ fast arrival was suspicious.

“His car was followed,” said General Raziq, who conducted his own investigation into the strike. “The Frontier Corps were following him, and within five minutes of him being hit they reached him, with the media.”

The Pakistani police was able to show Mullah Mansour’s passport to journalists, undamaged, beside the charred wreck. Afghan officials and Western security analysts say it was most likely planted there after the blast since everything else was burned beyond recognition.

For many in the Taliban, Mullah Mansour’s death represented a devastating betrayal by their longtime patron and sponsor, Pakistan that has split and demoralized the ranks.

About two dozen senior commanders from Mullah Mansour’s Pashtun tribe have defected to the Afghan government or moved into Afghanistan in fear of further retribution from Pakistan.

The Taliban commander compared the strike with Pakistan’s detention of senior Taliban commanders who dared to reach out to the Kabul government, like Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was detained in a joint United States-Pakistani raid in 2010. American officials welcomed his detention but later it emerged that he had been supporting peace overtures with Kabul.

The strike against Mullah Mansour was the first time a top Afghan Taliban leader had been killed inside Pakistan, which has provided a sanctuary for Taliban leaders throughout their 16-year insurgency against Afghanistan.

At the time, President Barack Obama and other American officials and diplomats expressed satisfaction.

“He was a prime target for the Americans and the Afghan government,” General Raziq said. “He was a terrorist.”