Why Pakistan is key to Afghan peace
The drone that targeted Mansour also carried a message to the Taliban that it is no longer safe in Pakistan
On May 21, the United Sates struck a vehicle in Pakistan, killing its passenger Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, an extremely dangerous man who nine months ago became leader of the Taliban. After the killing of his predecessor Mullah Mohammad Omar was revealed, Mansour withdrew from peace talks with the Afghan government and swore to increase attacks. Efforts to resume the talks failed.
With US presidential elections in November, it seems leaving Afghanistan in this state for the next administration is unacceptable to President Barack Obama and his Democratic party. The drone that targeted Mansour also carried a message to the Taliban that it is no longer safe in Pakistan.
The man considered the main reason for the failure of peace talks has been killed, and a new page opened. There are divisions within the Taliban over Mansour’s successor, and suspicion that Pakistan betrayed it by collaborating with Washington.
Despite Islamabad’s denial of knowledge about the attack, it is hard to believe that a Taliban leader could be found in a remote area without Pakistani intelligence. Islamabad’s claim that Mansour had traveled to Iran and returned to Pakistan the day he was killed is meant to assuage Taliban suspicions about Islamabad’s involvement.
The drone that targeted Mansour also carried a message to the Taliban that it is no longer safe in PakistanCamelia Entekhabi-Fard
Washington is sending a message to all militants in Pakistan that if they shun negotiations, they could share Mansour’s fate. In particular, Gulbadeen Hekmatyar – a major insurgent leader and head of the Hezb-e Islami political party – should take the warning seriously.
It is almost a week since the first draft of an agreement over an Afghan unity government was presented to Hekmatyar. His party has been negotiating with the current government for the past couple of years, and his endorsement of an agreement could influence other fighters to do so.
There is speculation on social media that Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the Haqqani network – a subset of the Taliban – is a contender to succeed Mansour. However, this is very unlikely because the US government’s Rewards for Justice Program is offering up to $10 million for information leading to Haqqani’s capture.
Afghan politicians believe peace can be achieved when Afghanistan and Pakistan resolve their border issues. Controlling terrorists such as the Taliban should not be difficult if that is what Islamabad wants. Peace between Pakistan and Afghanistan is more necessarily than peace with the Taliban, Islamabad’s puppets.
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a journalist, news commentator and writer who grew up during the Iranian Revolution and wrote for leading reformist newspapers. She is also the author of Camelia: Save Yourself by Telling the Truth - A Memoir of Iran. She lives in New York City and Dubai. She can be found on Twitter: @CameliaFard