In the wake of Burhanuddin Rabbani’s assassination, Afghan President Hamid Karzai says trying to talk peace with the Taliban is futile, that the real power behind the insurgents is Pakistan, and that Afghanistan’s best option is to negotiate with Islamabad. Hundreds of Rabbani’s supporters marched in Kabul on Sept. 25 to protest his killing, chanting “Death to Pakistan, death to the Taliban!” They demanded the government scrap plans to hold dialogue with the insurgents. Preliminary investigations into Rabbani’s killing, presented to Karzai by his intelligence chiefs that day, said the attack was plotted outside Afghanistan and named the Taliban’s Pakistan-based Quetta Shura as key suspects.
Echoing charges recently made by the US, Karzai accused Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency of backing the Taliban. “Pakistan did nothing to destroy terrorist strongholds, allowing them to train in its territory,” Karzai said. “And now, if the Taliban is being used… by the ISI, then Afghanistan has to talk with Pakistan and not the Taliban.” (VOA, Oct. 1; Pakistan Today, Sept. 29)
CNN reports that “Western intelligence officials” believe the Pakistan-based, Taliban-allied Haqqani network was behind the Rabbani assassination. NATO claims the senior Haqqani network leader in Afghanistan, Haji Mali Khan, was captured in an operation in Jani Khel district, Paktiya province Oct. 1. Khan is the uncle of Siraj and Badruddin Haqqani—the brothers who lead the network—and worked directly under Siraj, managing bases and overseeing operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, NATO said. (CNN, Oct. 1)