Kabul’s elusive reconciliation

The assassination of Afghan High Council Chief Burhanuddin Rabbani is a serious 
blow to the peace and reconciliation efforts currently underway. At the helm of affairs on this very crucial front which gained prominence in a revised US Afghan doctrine, Rabbani— who had also held the office of the president prior to the Taleban takeover in 1996 — had an added advantage of good contacts with many warlords and apparently even among insurgent factions. The question is who will replace Rabbani at this stage when reconciliation is deemed critical to reach a political solution to the ongoing conflict.

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Published: Thu 22 Sep 2011, 8:41 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 7:03 PM

In fact, the Taleban’s owning responsibility for the attack confirms their vehement opposition to the reconciliation efforts led by Kabul and backed by Washington. It is also a well known fact that Mullah Omar, who heads the Taleban has strongly opposed any negotiation or dealing with Kabul until the exit of all foreign forces from the country. Despite varied reports of ongoing negotiations with Taleban members close to Mullah Omar, there has been consistent denial from the his side. In this case one can presume that some negotiations that had been going on via Rabbani’s channels may have been motivated differently with intent to mislead. Considering the breach in security at Rabbani’s home, it is now learnt that this was a systematic plot whereby the insurgents had gained enough trust in order to carry out the attack without hindrance.

While both Kabul and Washington have stressed that ongoing efforts will continue, it does pose a bigger question regarding the feasibility of negotiations in these conditions. The Taleban have repeated once too often their unwillingness to negotiate until the exit of the Coalition. Getting somebody of enough political stature and one who can bridge the ethnic divide between the Pashtuns and other ethnic groups without partiality is challenging enough. Besides, the current ire among a number of Afghans over Rabbani’s killing is likely to jeopardise plans of negotiations with the insurgents. There is also fear of deepening ethnic tensions between the mainly Pashtun Taleban and affiliated insurgents and the Tajiks, given Rabbani’s Tajik background

Last but not the least the recent killing once again reiterates the precarious status of security in the country. A rise in high-profile political killings over recent months confirms a shift in insurgent tactics that have now extended beyond the battlefield. Difficult as it may seem, more comprehensive efforts are required to reach a political solution without which there can be no peace and stability.

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