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The Killing of Former Taliban Official

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Mullah Abdul Raqib Takhari’s assassination in Peshawar was not the first incident of its kind which has turned into a new puzzle in the complicated war and peace efforts in Afghanistan – and Pakistan. In one recent year, more Taliban senior officials in Quetta and Peshawar have been killed by unknown attackers. Last year, Nasiruddin Haqqani, the son of the leader of the Haqqani network was assassinated in the Pakistani capital Islamabad. In December 2013, another senior member of the Taliban leadership, Abdul Malik, was killed in the Quetta city and was transferred to Afghanistan for burial. As the conflict in Afghanistan is evolving with the ongoing NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, it seems the killings of the Taliban leaders are turning into a new puzzle in the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

Abdul Raqib Takhari is considered a pro-peace figure of the Taliban. Reportedly, he had been optimistic towards the peace efforts and hoped there would be a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan. Ironically, mostly those Taliban figures have been targeted in recent months that were considered as more moderates and favoring peace talks with the government of Afghanistan. This is partially explaining the cycle of killing of the Taliban leaders. Given this, those parties – whether in the ranks of the Taliban or third party stakeholders – who are not comfortable with the ongoing peace efforts in Afghanistan might be behind the assassination of the militant leaders in Pakistan.

Again, it is ambiguous whether which parties are going against the peace efforts at this particular time though it is obvious which parties were opposing the peace efforts in past years. Namely, the Pakistani intelligence agency, the hardline members of the Taliban and even the United States is accused of sabotaging the peace process in Afghanistan, each with their own agendas. However, the most reasonable argument is that there a bitter feuds going on between the pro-peace and hardline members of the Taliban leadership. Reportedly, the Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Omar holds a firm grip on controlling the Taliban, though the evidence is rare whether he himself is in control of the Taliban.

A highly likely possibility is that the Taliban leadership, which is in control of the hardliners, is opposing any internal tendency towards the Afghan government’s peace initiative. Thus, the Taliban seem to be determined for war against the Afghan government. In this case, the scenario for the Afghan government to reach a peace deal with the Taliban would be much difficult in the future. This is because the more pro-peace figures get killed and the powerful hardliners are getting more powerful in the chain of the Taliban command.

Despite previous Taliban claims about Afghanistan’s involvement in assassination of the Taliban leaders, it seems unlikely since those figures that have been killed were more pro-peace. On the other hand, the Afghan government is increasingly turning into Taliban for peace talks. Nevertheless, involvement of other parties such as the United States and Pakistan and the United States also cannot be ruled out given the complicacy of the game with involvement of regional and international players.

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