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The Killid Group
Ex-Taliban on peace councilWritten by Thomas Ruttig
Saturday, 30 October 2010 14:41
The establishment of the High Peace Council (HPC) by President Hamid Karzai and in particular its composition has attracted much attention and also criticism. Ten civil society organisations demanded to replace those members 'who are accused of human rights violation(s) and (who are) suspects of war crimes (…) with experts and those with greater experience in conflict resolutions, mediation and reconciliation in a joint declaration. The international community, meanwhile, hopes that it can open channels for contacts with the Taliban leadership or some Taliban networks.
An analysis of the 70 High Peace Council members reveals that 53 of them formerly belonged or currently are linked to political groups that were armed factions involved in the civil wars of the 1980-90s. Twelve members held positions in the Taliban Emirate's government between 1996-2001.
Within the dozen or so former Taliban on the Council, a group of four to six individuals is the most interesting one. It is rooted in the Khuddam ul-Furqan (KhF), an Islamist group founded in the 1960s, long before the Taleban movement emerged to which it later contributed. This long political history gives its members strong cohesion and contributed to the formulation of a distinct position vis-à-vis a possible peace process that not many other similar groups have developed. Members of this group have already attempted to obtain a role as pioneer thinkers on reconciliation-related issues, from the angle of their former Taliban membership.
In mid-2008, the group launched a 7-point plan under the title 'Sola gam pe gam' (Peace Step by Step) and distributed it among major actors in Kabul. Its members indicated that this proposal had been discussed with or even approved by the Taleban leadership, although this is not entirely clear. Members of the group have resumed presenting these ideas to the public after their appointment to the High Peace Council, in particular with respect to confidence-building measures.
The KhF group on the High Peace Council might prove to become a meaningful channel for eventual contacts or negotiations with the Taleban. But it remains to be seen whether it will be able to reach out to the larger Taleban movement, including its leadership, the 'Quetta shura', and how independent of the government it will be allowed to act.
The author is Co-Director and Senior Analyst of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, an independent Think Tank based in Kabul and Berlin.