President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has appointed Salahuddin Rabbani as the chief negotiator and head of High Peace Council in order to initiate a meaningful dialogue with Taliban and other insurgents linked to different militant outfits. Salahuddin is the son of slain Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was president of Afghanistan from 1989 to 1996, till his government was toppled by Taliban. Salahuddin was a key commander during 1980s, when Afghanistan, with the help of Pakistan and the United States, fought against the Soviet Union.
Mr. Salahuddin is currently Afghanistan’s ambassador to Turkey. He is being expected to resign from the position in the next couple of days. He is said to be an educated and bright leader who can easily step into shoes of his father. Mr Salahuddin is mandated to head a 70-member council and initiate a meaningful dialogue with Taliban to restore peace and stability in the country. Analysts believe that Mr. Salahuddin can prove a good asset for the Afghan government if utilized properly. However, it is yet to be seen whether he enjoys the same influence over Taliban as did his father.
Burhanuddin was assassinated by a suicide bomber on September 20 in Afghanistan. An unidentified person entered the room where Mr. Burhanuddin was staying and blew himself up by a bomb hidden under his traditional turban. Afghan government immediately leveled allegation of the killing against Pakistan and its premier intelligence agency, Inter Services Intelligence. Pakistan denied the charges vehemently and even offered Afghanistan to probe the killing with the help of a joint investigation team. Karzai government constituted a fact finding mission that also visited Pakistan to collect relevant evidences.
The assassination of Burhanuddin is still a mystery and perhaps will remain so in the coming years. He was a true leader who genuinely believed in the process of negotiations and dialogue. A number of analysts also believe that he was funded and financed by the ISI, as he was actually promoting interests of Pakistan in the violence-wracked Afghanistan. Taliban suspended dialogue with the United States last month. The Obama administration helped the Taliban leadership to open a political office in Qatar but some tragedies back at home forced Taliban to suspend the process of dialogue and negotiations.
In one of his statements issued from President Hamid Karzai’s office, Mr. Salahuddin termed presence of foreign forces on soil of Afghanistan as one of the major impediments to restore peace and normalcy in the country. He said peace could only be established in Afghanistan if foreign forces were withdrawn. The United States is planning to withdraw its troops from the country at the end of 2014 and desires to establish peace and stability in the country prior to the withdrawal of the forces. Mr. Salahuddin should work in collaboration with the Obama administration for betterment of the country.