Karzai reviews Taliban peace strategy
Kabul, Oct 2: Afghan President Hamid Karzai is reviewing his strategy for making peace with the Taliban after his top peace envoy was murdered, a spokesman said today, as officials said the killer was Pakistani.
Karzai's pointman on Taliban talks, High Peace Council chairman Burhanuddin Rabbani, was assassinated last month by a turban bomber who had purported to be a peace emissary from the insurgents.
A statement released by Karzai's presidential palace today said new evidence showed that Rabbani's killer was "a citizen of Pakistan".
Many Afghans are suspicious of Pakistan's connections to the Taliban-led insurgency in their country but the statement was the strongest yet to suggest a Pakistani link to Rabbani's killing.
Karzai spoke Friday of the need for discussions with Pakistan to bring peace and of his frustration at the failure of talks to establish contact with senior Afghan Taliban chiefs such as supreme leader Mullah Muhammad Omar.
Evidence shows that Rabbani's death on September 20 "was plotted in Quetta and the person who carried out the suicide attack... Was a citizen of Pakistan," the statement said, quoting an official investigation team.
Afghan officials have already said that Rabbani's murder was planned by the Afghan Taliban's leadership body, the Quetta Shura, in Pakistan. But the militant group has not claimed responsibility for the killing.
The statement added that the killer had been living in the Pakistani border town of Chaman, citing proof including documents and confessions of a man arrested last month in connection with the death. The statement also quoted investigators as saying:
"Documents and evidence together with the biography, address and phone numbers of suspects involved in the incident have been submitted to the government of Pakistan in order to arrest and hand them (other suspects) over."
The claims came hours after a spokesman for Karzai, Siamak Herawi, said the president was reviewing his strategy for peace with the Taliban in the wake of Rabbani's killing.
No substantive peace talks have yet taken place between the Afghan government and the Taliban, leaders of a 10-year insurgency which has led to 140,000 foreign troops being stationed in Afghanistan.
"All peace talks with the Taliban are suspended. The president will review the peace and reconciliation strategy," Herawi told AFP.
The spokesman said Karzai was expected to announce a new strategy for peace efforts in a televised address "very soon".
The Taliban have long rejected Karzai's calls for peace talks, saying they will not hold any discussions until all foreign troops leave the country.
Rabbani had rushed back from Iran in order to meet his murderer when he was killed in Afghanistan's highest-profile political assassination since a US-led invasion launched on October 7, 2001 ousted the Taliban.
Karzai spoke of his frustrations over the process at a meeting with Islamic clerics Friday, where he also stressed the importance of negotiating with Pakistan in a bid to end the war.
"Mullah Omar doesn't have an address... Their peace emissary turns out to be a killer, whom should we talk to?" Karzai asked the clerics.
"The Afghan nation asks me who's the other party that you hold talks with? My answer is, Pakistan." AFP
Lastupdate on : Sun, 2 Oct 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 2 Oct 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 3 Oct 2011 00:00:00 IST
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