The 100 Most Influential People of 2021
Sefa Karacan—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
By Ahmed Rashid
September 15, 2021 7:19 AM EDT

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is revered among the Taliban as a founding member of the movement in 1994, a charismatic military leader and a deeply pious figure.

When the Taliban swept to victory in August in Afghanistan, it was on the terms Baradar negotiated. He was said to be making all the major decisions, including the amnesty offered to members of the former regime, the lack of bloodshed when the Taliban entered Kabul and the regime’s contacts and visits with neighboring states, especially China and Pakistan.

Now he stands as the fulcrum for the future of Afghanistan. In the interim Taliban government, he was made a Deputy Prime Minister, the top role given to another leader more acceptable to the younger, more hard-line generation of Taliban commanders.

A quiet, secretive man who rarely gives public statements or interviews, Baradar nonetheless represents a more moderate current within the Taliban, the one that will be thrust into the limelight to win Western support and desperately needed financial aid. The question is whether the man who coaxed the Americans out of Afghanistan can sway his own movement.

Rashid is a journalist in Pakistan and author of Taliban

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