The Reuters report quoting a “senior Nato official” (who could as well be an American) to the effect that Taliban were not responsible for the slaying in June of President Hamid Karzai’s half-brother Wali Karzai shouldn’t come as a surprise. The official attributed the crime to a ‘private’ affair between Wali and the killer and Wali indeed dabbled in many unsavory things. The fact of the matter is that Afghanistan is a lawless country and all sorts of elements are at work exploiting the prevailing climate of violence.
But what needs to be noted carefully is that the Nato (and US, Britain, in particular) have failed to endorse Kabul’s allegation regarding the Taliban’s hand in the assassination of former president and head of Afghan High Peace Council Burhanuddin Rabbani last month. Is the silence tactical or strategic?
‘Tactical’ in the sense that Nato or the US wouldn’t want to close the doors on negotiations with the Taliban by branding them as the assassins of the tallest Tajik leader in Afghanistan, which would complicate the prospects of a broad-based settlement. Two, Nato and US would truly take the Kabul allegation with a pinch of salt as a knee-jerk reaction or a diversionary move to deflect attention from its unpardonable security lapse in adequately protecting Rabbani. Three, Nato and US didn’t want to contribute to the deterioration of Afghan-Pakistan ties.
But the reason seems to be strategic. The fact is that the dust is slowly settling down and Kabul is back on track seeking a resumption of contacts with Islamabad. Karzai is likely to come across Pakistani PM Yousuf Gilani at the SAARC summit in Male and the ice may well break. Gilani is on record that he hopes to raise substantive issues with Karzai - such as the construction of a highway linking Tajikistan and the Northern Areas of Pakistan via Wakhan Corridor (which would link Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Xinjiang and Northern Areas).
The big question is what NATO and the US might actually be knowing for certain about Rabbani’s assassination. The mystery deepens because Taliban had nothing much to gain out of the assassination and, on the contrary, Rabbani was a useful conduit to ‘other’ quarters. At the very minimum, Rabbani posed no ‘threat’ to the Taliban.
But there are interested parties who could take advantage of the assassination to: a) weaken Karzai; b) derail Kabul’s reconciliation policy toward the Taliban; c) gain ascendancy on the Afghan chessboard; d) disorient the US’ determined push to get talks with Taliban going; e) complicate Afghan-Pakistan ties. Some crimes are best laid to rest. It may be that Rabbani’s assassination is one such event. The Reuters report is here
Posted in Politics.
– October 16, 2011