Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Killing of Former Afghan President Rabbani Imperils Taliban Peace Talks

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Killing of Former Afghan President Rabbani Imperils Taliban Peace Talks

Article excerpt

Former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, a prominent peace council official trying to negotiate a reconciliation deal with the Taliban, was assassinated Tuesday.

Former Afghan president and head of the central government's peace talks with the Taliban, Burhanuddin Rabbani was killed in a bomb blast along with several other Afghan officials on Tuesday night, raising questions about future negotiations and the overall stability of Afghanistan.

The assassination comes just a week after the 20-hour siege outside the US Embassy and amid a wave of high-level assassinations this summer that shook up Afghan bases of power.

Many Afghan and international officials had placed increasing weight on the peace process as the only way to provide the country with lasting stability. Especially as the international community begins drawing down and looking to end major combat operations by 2014, finding a peaceful solution to the conflict is critical. The assassination of Mr. Rabbani casts serious doubt on that process.

"It is shocking news for every Afghan that someone who was the lead man for Karzai's peace process was killed in a suicide bombing," says Waliullah Rahmani, executive director of the Kabul Center for Strategic Studies. "It shows that Afghans cannot trust the peace process that is going on anymore."

President Hamid Karzai created the High Peace Council in September 2010 in an effort to open negotiation channels with the Taliban and other insurgent groups in Afghanistan. Rabbani, the president of Afghanistan from 1992 to 1996 just before the Taliban came to power, was appointed as the head of the group.

A year after its formation, however, the group has produced few, if any, results. Since the council's inception, a number of analysts and officials criticized it for lacking anyone with substantive ties to the Taliban and comprising many former Northern Alliance members, staunch enemies of the Taliban. …

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