Taking advantage of the widespread anger at the assassination of former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani by a ‘Taliban peace messenger’, opposition leaders have mounted pressure on President Hamid Karzai to stop all efforts for talks with the Taliban.
The main leader of the opposition ‘Coalition for Change and Hope’, Dr Abdullah Abdullah, blamed the Taliban for the murder of Rabbani and said terrorists had proved that the peace process was not acceptable.
Rabbani, the head of the Afghan High Peace Council, was killed at his residence in Kabul on Tuesday by a bomber concealing explosives in his turban.
“The government should immediately stop all contacts and talks with the Taliban and chalk out a new strategy for the reconciliation process,” Abdullah Abdullah told a news conference in Kabul.
He called the peace and reconciliation process ‘illegitimate’ and claimed that these efforts are aimed at cheating people, adding that the senior Taliban leadership has not yet shown any inclination to hold peace talks with the government.
He lashed out at Karzai for trying to make contacts with the Taliban and said he (Karzai) should respond to all questions about the assassination.
“Karzai should go to the Taliban, whom he has repeatedly called the sons of Afghan soil and disaffected brothers. Karzai should leave Afghans to decide their fate on their own,” the opposition leader said.
“Afghans have now lost patience and will no more allow this weak government to play with the sentiments of the people,” Dr Abdullah said.
Former minister and a leader of Northern Alliance Mohammad Yunas Qanuni said that by killing Prof Rabbani, armed opponents had proved that the peace process was not acceptable to them.
Qanuni said Rabbani’s assassination was the most high-profile killing since Ahmad Shah Masud, who was killed in a suicide attack in 2001. He stressed that the recent killings of important national figures, including Karzai’s brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, reveal the strategy of al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Ahmad Wali Masud, the head of the Ahmad Shah Masud Foundation, has held the government responsible for Rabbani’s murder.
Another member of the opposition Coalition for Change and Hope Mawlana Farid said in Kabul that the peace process run by the government of Afghanistan will not work and must be stopped. He said the High Peace Council did not produce substantial results and instead people were losing their national figures.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who used to appeal to the Taliban to join the peace process, did not adopt the same stand when he addressed a crowded press conference in Kabul on Thursday to talk about the assassination.
President Karzai spoke about one of his visits to Pakistan along with Prof Rabbani and said they had told Pakistan military and political leaders that they not only want peace for Afghanistan but also for Pakistan. “Prof Rabbani had told the Pakistani leaders that if they would cooperate with Afghanistan on the peace process, they should cooperate mostly for the sake of Pakistan and not so much for Afghanistan,” Karzai said at his press conference, beamed live by Afghan national TV.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2011.
More in PakistanLegal lacuna: Restraining rogue elements, sans ‘proof’