Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai
Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai is an Afghan Taliban politician, currently serving as the group's political chief.
An ethnic Pashtun of the Stanikzai subtribe, he was born in 1963 in Baraki Barak district, Logar Province. Having gained a masters' degree in political science, he later studied at India's military academy in Dehradun, which in the 1970s was involved in training Afghan army officials. He fought in the Soviet–Afghan War, first with Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi's Islamic and National Revolution Movement of Afghanistan, then with Abdul Rasul Sayyaf's Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan, as commander of its south-western front.
During the Taliban's 1996–2001 rule of Afghanistan, Stanakzai served as deputy minister of foreign affairs under foreign minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil and later deputy minister of health. Though he was reportedly not trusted by Muttawakil, he often gave interviews to foreign media since he speaks good English.
Stanikzai arrived in Qatar in January 2012 to facilitate the opening of the Taliban's political office in that country. On 6 August 2015 he was appointed acting head of the political office in Qatar, replacing Tayyab Agha who had resigned. After his appointment, Stanikzai pledged his allegiance to Akhtar Mansour, saying "I and other members of the Political Office of the Islamic Emirate declare allegiance to the honorable Mullah Akhtar Mansoor." He was confirmed in his position as head of the political office in November 2015.
From August 7 to 10 2018, Stanikzal led a delegation of Taliban officials to Uzbekistan. The delegation met with Uzbekistan's Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov and Uzbekistan's special representative to Afghanistan Ismatilla Irgashev. From August 12–15, he traveled to Indonesia for talks with officials, meeting Indonesian First Vice President Muhammad Jusuf Kalla, Indonesia Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and Hamid Awaluddin, Indonosia’s special representative for Afghanistan.
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