Even as uncertainty prevailed over who killed the former President of Afghanistan and Chairman of the High Peace Council (HPC), Burhanuddin Rabbani, Kabul on Wednesday asserted that the reconciliation process would stay its course irrespective of repeated efforts to derail it.
About his assassin, there were conflicting reports as they depended upon who spoke to whom since the Taliban itself is no longer a single entity but has developed several incarnates. While Reuters stood by its earlier report that the Taliban had claimed responsibility, most reports from Kabul suggest they were non-committal.
The BBC said the Taliban issued a statement saying they did not want to comment. “Until we receive more information and our information is complete, our position is that we cannot say anything on this issue,'' said a Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
From what has been pieced together by investigators, the assassins had worked for months to get access to Prof. Rabbani and had finally managed to convince his close aides that they had a special message from the Quetta Shura. The letter they were carrying from Quetta Shura was apparently a fake and bore names of those who had been kicked out of the Afghan Taliban's top leadership council.
While Afghanistan grappled with finding a replacement for Prof. Rabbani to head the HPC amid apprehensions that his killing would strengthen the hands of those who disagree with the reconciliation process — especially with the Taliban — the U.S. continued to mount pressure on Pakistan to sever its institutional links with terrorist organisations; particularly the Haqqani network.
Hours after the assassination, Chairman of U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen accused the ISI of using the Haqqani network to wage a proxy war. Referring to his recent meeting with Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the admiral said ISI should disconnect with the Haqqani network and from the proxy war that they are fighting. “The ISI has been doing this — working for — supporting proxies for an extended period of time. It is a strategy in the country and I think that strategic approach has to shift in the future.''
At the same time Admiral Mullen made it clear that walking out of its relationship with Pakistan was no longer an option for the U.S. “We walked away from them in the past and… I think that cut-off has a lot to do with where we are.''