Mullah Yaqub Omar, the new defence minister of Afghanistan and son of Taliban founder Mullah Omar, made his first appearance before the media in Kabul on Wednesday, Express Tribune reported.

Mullah Yaqub, who heads the Taliban military commission, recently moved to Kabul from Kandahar and has close family members as his personal guards, the report said.

He is said to be the driving force behind the capture of the entire country by the Taliban after the US announced the withdrawal of its forces.

The security during the address was extraordinary, given Yaqub is still one of the most wanted men in the US, a local journalist told The Express Tribune. The announcement that Mullah Yaqub would address the gathering took the participants and the media personnel by surprise because nobody knew about his presence.

Addressing the ceremony at Kabul’s Shaheed Sardar Daud Hospital, Yaqub urged the wealthy segments of the Afghan society to invest in the healthcare sector so that Afghans don’t have to rely on neighbours for treatment.

He said the Taliban were in power to serve the Afghans, adding that those who have more resources should contribute towards nation-building.

The whereabouts of Mullah Yaqoob Omar, the 30-something son of Mullah Omar who has been named the militant group’s caretaker defense minister, is essentially a mystery, RFE/RL said in an earlier report.

The militant group’s newly named supreme leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, has only been seen on posters even as government appointments are attributed to him amid reports that he died a year ago, the report said.

The 27-year-old son of Mullah Omar — the founder of the Taliban — grew up in Balochistan and received his religious education in Pakistan’s southwestern province as well. He moved to Kandahar for his final exams, Express Tribune reported.

He is considered an expert in large scale operations even though at first he was not well-versed in combat. He was later appointed as the head of the military commission by the Taliban. After the appointment, he moved back to Afghanistan from Pakistan.

According to sources, Yaqub is a close aide of Mullah Haibatullah on military operations, while he is one of the strong voices in the Taliban shura. They claim that Yaqub is “considered as a final authority” on military operations and related appointments, the report said.

–IANS

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