Rabbani’s assassination: Pakistan loses a trusted friend


With the assassination of soft-spoken Prof Burhanuddin Rabbani, the National Reconciliation Policy of Afghan President Hamid Karzai not only faces serious trouble, but Pakistan has also lost one of its most sincere friends.
Belong to Badakhshan province of Afghanistan, Prof Rabbani was amongst those Afghan elders who migrated to Pakistan soon after the Soviet Union-backed coup against former monarch Mohammad Zahir Shah in the early 1970s. He remained in Peshawar until the fall of former President Dr Najibullah’s regime in April 1992.
During his two decade exile in Peshawar, Prof Rabbani not only played a key role in assembling likeminded Afghans against the former Soviet Union and the regimes it backed, but even maintained cordial relations with Pakistan. Even after his return to Afghanistan, Prof Rabbani tried his best to establishing trust-worthy relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan at each and every level.
Beside the assassination of Prof Rabbani, Masoom Stanakzai sustained serious injuries in Tuesday’s suicide attack on Rabbani’s well-guarded residence. Stanakzai is amongst most confidential aides to President Karzai and was serving as the secretary of the 68-member Reconciliation Commission headed by Prof Rabbani. Both of them played important role in convincing leading Taliban commanders to join dialogue and reconcile with President Karzai’s government.
Prof Rabbani was educated at Madina University, Saudi Arabia and Al Azhar University, Egypt, before joining Kabul University in mid 1960s. In Kabul University, he become part the Islamists who not only opposed the uprising of former Soviet Union-backed progressive elements, but opposed King Zahir Shah’s regime. These Islamists later on established links with Pakistan’s spy agencies and slipped into Pakistan when late Maj Gen (r) Naseerullah Khan Babar was serving as the inspector general of Frontier Corps and later Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (NWFP) governor. He was also accompanied by his most confidential commander Ahmad Shah Masud, who was killed in a suicide attack on September 7, 2001. Rabbani’s Jamiat Islami was part of the four hard line Jihadi-parties’ alliance.
But despite the alliance, his party had hostilities with Hizbe Islami of Engineer Gulbadin Hekmatyar. The hostilities emerged not on ethnic or lingual grounds, but over religious and jihadi differences.
According to infamous Peshawar Accord brokered by former prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif amongst the Afghan jihadi groups, Prof Rabbani assumed the office of the president in June 1992. His remained in office for four months, but in 1993, with the support of his colleagues like Prof Abdul Rab Rasool Sayaf, Maulvi Younas Khalis and Maulvi Nabi Mohammadi, Rabbani convened his self-styled Shura Ahl-o-Aqad (Loya Jirga) and declared himself the president for a four-year term.
The move resulted in fighting between the government and opposition alliance, especially with the HIA of Hekmatyar and Junbash-e-Milli Islami of Rashid Dostam. The hostilities concluded with the entrance of Taliban as victors into Kabul in September 1996. During this period, Saudi Arabian Intelligence Minister Shehzada Bandar made hectic efforts for reconciliation, but in vain.
From September 1996 until November 2001, Prof Raqbbani led the Northern Alliance, but he and Hekmatyar remained hosts of the Iranian government. After the fall of the Taliban, Prof Rabbani not only reconciled with Hekmatyar, but even offered him hospitality in his native Badakhshan province. Both of them adopted a similar stance against Taliban.
Rabbani governed Kabul for couple of days after the fall of Taliban as the interim president, but later vacated the office for President Karzai in accordance with the Bonn Accord. Later he become candidate against President Karzai in June 2002 Loya jirga, but lost. Similar was his position in October 2004 presidential election. Despite such opposition, he got maximum respect of President Karzai and on such grounds, was named the president of the Pak-Afghan Joint Jirga held in August 2007 at Kabul.
About a year ago, Rabbani was picked the chairman of the National Reconciliation Commission. A couple of months ago, Prof Rabbani visited Pakistan and held meetings with authorities and politicians. He also met Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Jamaat–e-Islami leaders, with a request to help him in achieving the goal of reconciliation with the Taliban, Hizbe Islami Afghanistan and other resistance forces.
Afghans have called the assassination of Prof Rabbani a blow not only to the reconciliation process of Hamid Karzai, but harmful to the very interests of Afghanistan. Rabbani had always opposed the disintegration of Afghanistan on ethnic grounds and his assassination could make easy the task for those who favour the division of the war-torn country.

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