ISLAMABAD: Salahuddin Rabbani, the son of Afghan peace envoy and former president Burhanuddin Rabbani, is being tipped as the new Afghan peace envoy to revive the stalled reconciliation process, an Afghan diplomat told The Express Tribune in Islamabad.
Ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan have been strained and Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been in a fix over the appointment of the new chief of the High Peace Council since Burhanuddin’s assassination last September.
“President Karzai had made up his mind to appoint Burhanuddin’s son as the new chief but several senior former jihadi leaders had opposed his appointment,” the diplomat told The Express Tribune.
The Afghan diplomat went on to add that former Afghan president Sibghatullah Mujaddadi had been expecting to be appointed as the new peace envoy, adding that his quest for the post had delayed Burhanuddin’s replacement for nearly six months.
“The president feared losing the support of Burhanuddin’s Jamiat-e-Islami party and felt Salahuddin’s appointment would retain his support from the party,” he added.
Salahuddin was appointed the head of Jamiat-e-Islami after his father’s assassination.
Afghanistan immediately suspended all high-level contacts and joint peace efforts after Rabbani’s assassination at his Kabul residence. Afghan intelligence had even alleged the involvement of Pakistani elements in the murder plot, a charge dismissed by Pakistan.
Sibghatullah Mujaddadi’s resignation from all government positions last week paved the way for his appointment, an Afghan source in Islamabad said, adding that a formal announcement is likely to be made in the coming weeks.
After Mujaddadi’s resignation, President Hamid Karzai had also been involved in consultations with other senior allies including the chief of National Islamic Front of Afghanistan, Pir Syed Ahmad Gilani, also believed to be among the favourites for the peace emissary’s slot.
Meanwhile, Afghan presidential spokesperson Aimal Faizi said that President Karzai had finalised the name of the Afghan High Peace Council chief. He did not say who that person was though.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2012.