The killing of the former Afghan President, Burhanuddin Rabbani, is being seen as an attack on the attempted reconciliation process taking place ahead of the Bonn conference towards the end of the year.

The government sources expected some impact to the reconciliation process, in which Professor Rabbani was playing a leading role as Chairman of the High Peace Council. In fact, they noted their interaction with Professor Rabbani when he came to the country in July as part of the reconciliation process.

Diplomats here are waiting to see how the various parties in Afghanistan react to the assassination before analysing what his killing means for the troubled region. They noted the series of recent high profile killings beginning with Afghan President Hamid Karzai's half-brother and felt he was the tallest leader to have been killed by the Taliban so far.

Professor Rabbani was the second of the two tall leaders from the Tajik-dominated North-Western Afghanistan, who had withstood the Soviet forces as well as the worst years of Taliban rule, to be assassinated. The first was Ahmed Shah Masood, “the Lion of Panjsher Valley,” who was killed by the Al-Qaeda a few days before the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

India reacted to the killing with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna expressing shock. Mr. Krishna recalled his meetings with Professor Rabbani in Kabul and again in New Delhi last July, when “he had shared his vision of a harmonious and prosperous Afghanistan.”

“Tragically, the forces of terror and hatred have silenced yet another powerful voice of reason and peace in Afghanistan. We unreservedly condemn this act of great brutality. I offer my deepest condolences to and solidarity with the members of the family of Professor Rabbani and the people of Afghanistan. I would also like to reiterate the steadfast support of the people and government of India in Afghanistan's quest for peace and efforts to strengthen the roots of democracy,” said the Minister.