Quetta Shura Taliban (QST)
Books on Afghanistan
The Quetta Shura Taliban, sometimes referred to as the QST, is an insurgent leadership group based in the city of Quetta in Baluchistan province of southern Pakistan. On the Afghanistan side of the border it operates mostly in south and southwestern Afghanistan - specifically in Zabul, Kandahar, and Helmand provinces. The leader of the Quetta Shura is Mullah Mohammed Omar. He and other senior members of the Taliban leadership fled to Pakistan as the Taliban were defeated in late 2001 and 2002. They established an insurgent force and they soon began operations in southern Afghanistan.
Support From Pakistan. The Quetta Shura enjoys sanctuary in Pakistan and freedom of movement within that area of Pakistan. It also received a lot of assistance from Pakistan's intelligence service - the Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI. One tenant of counterinsurgency is the ability to curtail outside support for the insurgency. As long as Pakistan allows sanctuary, provides support, intelligence, and funding the prospect of defeating the insurgency is greatly diminished.
Leadership. Reportedly the Quetta Shura, headed by Mullah Omar, is composed of around 15 members of senior Taliban leaders. The 15 members are sometimes referred to as the "leadership council", "supreme shura", or rahbari shura. Some reports indicated that the size of the shura has varied from 10 to 20 members depending on the timeframe. 6.
Role of Quetta Shura. The leadership council of the Quetta Shura are composed of experienced leaders. The shura acts as a central control element for the Afghan Taliban's operations. It formulates military strategy and political responses to pressing issues (such as reconciliation). It oversees the selection of military commanders in Afghanistan and the shadow government 2. operating in the districts and provinces of Afghanistan. In addition, it formulates and manages the propaganda war (which it is winning) against the Karzai regime and ISAF.
Quetta Shura Subcommittees. While the 15 member leadership council makes all the important decisions - the implementation of the shura decisions and guidance is conducted by subcommittees covering down in various functional areas.
Organization of the Afghan Taliban. The Quetta Shura is assisted by four regional military councils and ten committees (or subcommittees). The four regional military shuras or councils are based in Quetta, Peshawar, Miramshah, and Gerdi Jangal. The ten committees cover down on the military, religious affairs, finance, politics, propaganda, interior affairs, prisoners and refugees, education, recruitment, and repatriation. 3.
Funding. Wealthy Persian gulf donors provide funding for the Taliban. In addition, the drug trade also provides significant funding as well.
Baluchistan. The Pakistan province of Baluchistan, sanctuary to the Quetta Shura, is very large when compared with the rest of Pakistan. The government and military of Pakistan does not enjoy complete control of the province. Ethnic Balochs have enjoyed a large degree of autonomy and have repeatedly had insurgent movements oppose the Pakistan government.
Taliban in Control of Baluchistan? Some observers believe that the Taliban now have the run of Baluchistan and are actually in charge in the province.
Pakistan Army and the Quetta Shura. The Pakistan Army has for years resisted acknowledging that the Quetta Shura actually exists. Many believe that the Pakistan Army is powerless to take on the Quetta Shura Taliban because of the politics involved and the large number of Pashtuns in the Pakistan Army. In addition, there is the belief that the Pakistanis want the Afghan Taliban to remain powerful as they are seen as a strategic depth against an Indian attack against Pakistan and a counterbalance to Indian influence in Afghanistan.
Areas of Operations. The Quetta Shura operates primarily in Kandahar and Helmand provinces where the Pashtun population and the narcotics trade offers support and funding. In the period from 2006 to 2011 the Taliban have made a concentrated effort to take control of Kandahar and Helmand province. 1.
Karachi. There are many reports (from January 2010) on saying that the Quetta Shura has moved many of its members and organizational functions to the city of Karachi located almost 400 miles to the south. In addition, the large city of 18 million people allows for numerous places to hide from CIA and ISI agents as well as making it extremely difficult for armed Predators to find and kill insurgent leaders.
Command, Control, and Communications. The Quetta Shura stays in touch with its commanders and shadow government in Afghanistan with face-to-face meetings, written messages, couriers, conferences, two-way radios, satellite phones, and the Internet.
Peshawar Shura. There are reports that the Taliban fighting along the border of eastern Afghanistan are under the direction of the "Peshawar Shura". It is possible that 2012 saw much internal turmoil among the Taliban as the Quetta and Peshawar Shura have been at odds with each other. 4. The Peshawar-based Taliban have a different outlook on the conflict than the Quetta Shura. In addition, there appear to be some divisions 5. within the Quetta Shura organization.
Fall 2001. U.S. Special Forces and a handful of CIA agents topple the Taliban regime with the assistance of the Northern Alliance and other anti-Taliban groups.
Fall 2001. Mullah Mohammed Omar flees from Kandahar into the mountains on the back of a motorcycle. A $10 million bounty was placed on his head by the U.S.
Winter 2001. Remnants of the Taliban ruling government flee to southern Afghanistan and then cross the border into Pakistan.
2002. The surviving Taliban leaders set up the "Quetta Shura" and start to build an insurgent organization.
2009. Pakistan finally admits the presence of the "Quetta Shura".
February 2010. Pakistan moves against the Quetta Shura arresting 7 of the 15 member leadership council.
February 2010. Reports indicate the some parts of the Quetta Shura organization moved further south into the city of Karachi.
McNally, Lauren and Paul Bucala. The Taliban
Resurgent: Threats to Afghanistan's Security, Institute for the Study
of War, March 2015. This 39-page report examines the Taliban movement in
Dressler, Jeffrey and Carl Forsberg. The
Quetta Shura Taliban in Southern Afghanistan: Organization, Operations,
and Shadow Governance. Institute for the Study of War, December 21,
Dressler, Jeffrey. Securing Helmand.
Institute for the Study of War, Sep 2009.
Khan, Mukhtar A., The Headquarters of the
Afghan Taliban, Combating Terrorism Center, West Point, May 15, 2009.
Ruttig, Thomas. The Other Side: Dimensions of
the Afghan Insurgency - Causes, Actors and Approaches to 'Talks'.
Afghanistan Analysts Network, July 2009.
Sebastian Trives, "Roots of the Insurgency in the Southeast," in Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field, ed. Antonio Giustozzi (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009). Book is available on Amazon.com at this link Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field.
_________, "The Taliban: An Organizational
Analysis", Military Review, May-June 2008, pages 58-73.
Quetta Shura. WikipediA.
February 19, 2015. "Afghanistan's 'Complex' Insurgency". The Diplomat. The writer, Ankit Panda, says that the Taliban label no longer applies to a single, monolithic entity in Afghanistan.
May 7, 2013. "Understanding Afghan Insurgents".
November 12, 2012. "A Senior Taliban Leader is
Gunned Down in Quetta". The Daily Beast. No one knows show
conducted the attack but the NDS is suspected.
October 15, 2012. "Has Taliban Leader Mullah Omar
Lost His Mind?" The Daily Beast.
August 14, 2012. "The quiet rise of the Quetta
Shura". The AFPAK Channel.
February 25, 2010. "Can Afghanistan Taliban absorb
blow to Quetta Shura?" The Christian Science Monitor. 7 members
of ruling council arrested by Pakistan.
February 24, 2010. "What's the Quetta Shura
Taliban and why does it matter?" CSM.
February 23, 2010. "More on the Quetta Shura move
to Karachi". Threat Matrix.
Jan 29, 2010. "Taliban's leadership council runs
Afghan war from Pakistan". Guardian.
January 25, 2010. "On the trail of the Taliban in
Quetta". BBC News.
November 23, 2009. "The Quetta Shura Taliban: An
Overlooked Problem", International Affairs Review.
September 23, 2009. "Taliban Widen Afghan Attacks
from Base in Pakistan". The New York Times.
April 16, 2009. "Briefing: Who are the Taliban?".
The Christian Science Monitor.
February 9, 2009. "Taliban Haven in Pakistani City
Raises Fears". New York Times.
1. See The Taliban's Campaign for Kandahar,
by Carl Forsberg, December 2009.
2. See The Taliban's Shadow Government,
by Stefanie Nijssen, Civil-Military Fusion Centre, September 2011.
3. Most of the information from this paragraph
(Organization of Afghan Taliban) comes from a report on The Long War
Journal entitled "The Afghan Taliban's top leaders" published
February 23, 2010.
4. For more on the conflict between the Peshawar
and Quetta shuras see Turmoil within the Taliban: A Crisis of Growth?,
by Antonio Giustozzi, Elliott School of International Affairs, George
Washington University, January 2013.
5. For more information on divisions within the
Quetta Shura see Serious Leadership Rifts Emerge in Afghan Taliban,
by Anand Gopal, Combatting Terrorism Center, West Point, November 28,
6. For more on Quetta Shura see "The Quetta Shura:
Understanding the Afghan Taliban's Leadership", Terrorism Monitor,
Volume 12, Issue 4, The Jamestown Foundation, February 21, 2014.
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