Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, July 8th, 2020

Ahmadullah’s Death – A Whistle-blowing Act on Peace Talks

The death of Hafiz Ahmadullah, brother of Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah, at a mosque in southwestern Pakistan appears to be related to the ongoing peace talks between Taliban leadership and the US representatives. Organizers of the attack most likely wanted to blow the whistle on the Taliban about peace talks.
Although Ahmadullah’s death could not disrupt the peace talks, it indicates that the whistle-blowers are seeking to derail the process.
Last year, Maulana Sami ul-Haq known as the “father of the Taliban” was assassinated in Rawalpindi adjacent to Islamabad, which was condemned by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. His death came as an Afghan delegation met him one month before and asked him to play a mediating role in peace talks with the Taliban. It seems that the motives behind both Ahmadullah and Haq’s death was to disrupt the negotiations.
Ahmadullah’s death further indicates an internal rift within the Taliban leadership. Some disenchanted insurgent leaders, including Mullah Muhammad Rasul’s splinter group, are against negotiations and seek to continue their insurgency.
Years before, when some Taliban high-ranking political figures sought to hold talks with the Afghan government, they were killed in Pakistani soil. For example, two high-ranking Taliban officials Molavi Abdul Raqib and Mullah Agha Jan Mutasim, who pursued informal talks with the Kabul government in Dubai, were shot in Pakistan in unclaimed attacks. Sources claimed Quetta Shura had been behind the assassinations of the two Taliban members. Sourced also added that the assassinations were in retaliation for their attempts to make peace with former Afghan President Hamid Karzai administration. The involvement of Pakistani intelligence in the death of Mutasim and Raqib were also reportedly claimed by some sources. In short, those Taliban leaders, who signaled for talks with the Afghan government, were killed by unknown gunmen in Pakistan. Within three months, five Taliban commanders, including Molavi Noorullah Hotak, were shot dead, which stalled the informal talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
Peace talks have been highly rocky road. Although the US and Taliban representatives held several rounds of talks, peace still remains elusive. There have been many obstacles before the talks and the Taliban yet to negotiate with the Kabul government to find a political settlement. Signing a peace agreement between the Taliban and US negotiators are said to be imminent, the aftermath of the agreement is still viewed with both fear and optimism.
If peace talks initiate between the Taliban leadership and the Kabul government, the ifs and buts will continue and the Taliban will haggle over higher price. Meanwhile, whistle-blowers will be in pursuit of opportunity to derail the talks in one way or another. With this in mind, negotiators have to be cautious not to stall the talks at any cost.
It is believed that the more the peace process is prolonged, the more obstacles will appear. The US-Taliban negotiators have to wrap up their talks with signing an agreement. Meanwhile, the Taliban should reach an agreement with the Kabul government, which is a win-win situation for both the Taliban and Kabul.
On the other hand, prolonging the conflict will lead to further casualties and create space for other militant outfits, mainly the IS group, to continue their terrorist activities. In such a case, Afghan civilians will bear the brunt of casualties. As a result, the IS group is seeking to target civilians through carrying out suicide attacks in crowded areas. The recent attack on a wedding ceremony in Kabul suggests that the IS group is targeting civilians, including women and children, purposely.
But if talks with the Taliban reach an agreement and ceasefire is declared, other militant groups will be weakened as the government focuses its energy on combating them.
The role of regional stakeholders is very crucial in the peace process. Regional states have to use their leverage on Taliban leadership to reach an agreement and end the 18-year conflict since a stable Afghanistan is in the interests of the entire region.
Since the Taliban political office, rather than an individual or a splinter group, is continuing the peace talks, whistle-blowers are unlikely to succeed in derailing the negotiations despite the fact that an internal rift is felt within the Taliban leadership. But the Taliban should pursue the talks with genuine intention and reduce their violence, particularly against civilians. They should also stop targeting public infrastructures such as mosques, schools, hospitals, hotels, etc., either. In short, although there will be many obstacles before the peace process, genuine intention for talks and the constructive role of regional stakeholders will overcome the challenges.