Central & South Asia
Afghan peace council appoints new chairman
Salahuddin Rabbani, son of murdered Burhanuddin Rabbani, is named new point man in negotiations with the Afghan Taliban.
Last Modified: 13 May 2012 11:56
Burhanuddin Rabbani was the former head of the High Peace Council before he was killed in September 2011 [Reuters]

The Afghan government has appointed Salahuddin Rabbani as the chair of  the country's High Peace Council, whose job is to reach out to the Taliban. 

Rabbani replaces his father, the former President Burhanuddin Rabbani who was assassinated in September last year by a suicide attack by a bomber carrying a bomb hidden in a turban.

His death was  a major setback to reconciliation efforts with the Afghan Taliban and exploratory moves toward peace talks.

A statement from the president's office confirmed the appointment of Rabbani.

“Salahuddin Rabbani was elected the head of High Peace Council by majority of High Peace Council members in a meeting today,” the statement said.

“For the sake of national unity, and to stop the foreign interferences, [the] Afghan president called his appointment useful."

Our complete Afghanistan coverage

Salahuddin, born in 1971, is currently Afghanistan's ambassador to Turkey. His appointment as Kabul's chief peace negotiator with the Taliban ends a seven-month gap at the top of the 70-member council.

"The presence of foreign troops has prolonged conflict and insecurity," he said in a statement issued by President Hamid
Karzai's office, aimed at mollifying those who are demanding the withdrawal of all foreign forces from the country.

"We will have achievement in the peace process when the leadership is in the hands of Afghans. Without it we cannot move it forward and get the nation's confidence," said Salahuddin.

His father Burhanuddin, an ethnic Tajik, was a celebrated former Afghan leader who fought against the Soviet occupation of the country during the 1980s.

His Jamiat-e-Islami fighters were among the first to reach Kabul after the Soviet exodus in 1989, paving the way for him to become president until his ousting by the Taliban in 1996. 

Burhanuddin's murder revealed that the bomber was Pakistani and the assassination had been plotted in Pakistan.

Islamabad angrily rejected the allegation.

Kamdesh raid

Also on Saturday, Afghan forces with air support from NATO combed through the country's mountainous northeast in their third day Saturday of a major offensive against militants in a province that serves as an insurgent supply route from Pakistan.

Mohammad Zareen, a spokesman for Nuristan province, said nearly 30 insurgents have been killed and at least 30 have been wounded in the operation that began Thursday night in Kamdesh district.

Afghan officials say that one policeman and a woman have been killed in the fighting, with another four Afghan soldiers and another woman wounded.

A unit of an unknown number of Afghan commandos and about 400 Afghan policemen are conducting the operation, and another 200 police are soon to join them.

In a statement released on Saturday, the Afghan Defence Ministry said it launched the operation because residents were complaining that insurgents were becoming more active in the area.

Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.
Public stripping and assault of woman and rival protests thereafter highlight Kenya's gender-relations divide.