The mystery surrounding the assassination of former President of Afghanistan Burhanuddin Rabbani has not cleared. The motive for the murder seems clear enough. The 70-year-old Rabbani headed the peace team established by President Karzai to broker negotiations with the Taliban. The assassin claiming to bring a "special message" from Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar turned out to be a suicide bomber who killed Rabbani. Who was behind the murder? The Afghan Taliban refuted reports linking it to the murder. Mullah Omar can be ruled out because he would not send an assassin after establishing contacts for negotiations with the Karzai government.
Fingers are pointed at the pro-Al Qaeda elements headquartered inside Pakistan including the Haqqani Network. The relations between Mullah Omar and Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin are reportedly tense. The motive for the murder probably would have been to abort the peace process which Mullah Omar was inclined to consider. The Haqqanis are more hardcore and possibly thought that Mullah Omar would give away too much in peace talks. In an interview days after the assassination Sirajuddin Haqqani described how they had spurned the approaches from Germany and the US in exploratory peace talks held earlier this year. Pledging full support to the apex body, ‘Quetta Shura’, he said: "They offered us very, very important positions but we rejected and told them they would not succeed in their nefarious designs. They wanted to divide us. We would support whatever solution our Shura members suggest for the future of Afghanistan ." It appears there could be differences of approach between Mullah Omar and the Haqqani Network.
Regardless of the motive that led to the murder of Rabbani, the outcome might prove to be very, very different from what the plotters might have sought. Burhanuddin Rabbani was a Tajik. The Pashtuns rule entire Afghanistan . All the non-Pashtuns clustered in North Afghanistan resent Pashtun over lordship. The murder of a highly respected Tajik leader like Rabbani by the Pashtuns would accentuate the division between Pashtuns and non-Pashtuns. The earlier murder in similar fashion of another towering Tajik leader, Ahmad Shah Massoud, will be recalled with renewed bitterness. President Karzai’s main political rival, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, is also a Tajik. His proposal of a federal Afghanistan had been spurned by President Karzai. The divide between Pashtuns and non-Pashtuns is reinforced by geography. And to cap it all, there is already a demand for the creation of a separate Khorasan encompassing all the non-Pashtun tribes clustered in North Afghanistan . Would not Rabbani’s murder widely perceived to have been committed by Pashtuns sharply accelerate the demand for a separate Khorasan? There are elements in America not averse to Khorasan. The murder of Rabbani might well recoil on the plotters who conspired to kill him.