He was nominated by Afghan leaders and Islamic scholars to be the leader of the Populzai clan of the Pashtuns after the assassination in Pakistan of his father. The Populzai inhabit the Kandahar region, where the Taliban's leaders are based. Mr Qazai is trying to muster support from Pashtun chiefs for the former king, Zahir Shah – for whom he has acted as foreign minister – and forge a pan-tribal coalition. He left Quetta last week with Abdul Haq to try to open up a southern front against the Taliban, a move ultimately aimed at strengthening the Pashtun component of any future government.
Pir Sayeed Ahmed Gailani
Spiritual leader of a minority Sufi Muslim sect. Left Afghanistan after the Soviet occupation to found the National Islamic Front in Peshawar, which became part of the mujahedin government of 1992-96.
A relatively moderate Pashtun leader who visited King Zahir Shah last week and urged him to broaden his political base, Gailani's vision for change in Afghanistan involves forming a council of "personalities who enjoy the support of the majority of Afghans" headed by the exiled king. His vision even has room for the Taliban – he said this week: "In my opinion, those Taliban who agree with our ideas as regards peace and a broad-based government should start the task immediately."
Former Pashtun army commander in eastern Afghanistan who switched allegiance to the mujahedin to fight against the Soviets. Fled to Pakistan with 96 troops when the Taliban came to power, but upset the pro-Taliban Pakistani government who forced him to leave. Went to Germany for eight months and spent the last four years in Dijon, France, before returning to Pakistan on 5 October. Has visited the former king in Rome. Chaired a meeting of veteran Afghan mujahedin commanders at his home in Peshawar last week, which issued the first open threat of military action against the Taliban from a group supporting the return of Zahir Shah.Reuse content