Deputy Gov. Ghazni Killed;
Karzai Weeps, announces Peace Outreach Council

Anti-government guerrillas attacked the convoy of the deputy governor of Ghazni province on Tuesday. According to Pajhwok, “Deputy governor of Ghazni province Mohammad Kazem Allahyar, his son, two of his nephews and a guard were killed in the attack in the provincial capital Ghazni, said Zamarai Bashary, spokesman for the interior ministry.”

In an address in Kabul on the occasion of the UN Literacy Day, Afghan president Hamid Karzai broke into tears at the thought that the next generation of Afghans might be forced into exile by the country’s increasing violence. Some AFghan observers, like this one writing in Persian, wondered if Karzai weren’t covering up his own failings by his histrionics. For more see this report in English.

Karzai also announced Tuesday the formation of a 68-member ‘Council of Peace’ charged with conducting negotiations with the Taliban and other insurgents in hopes of bringing them in from the cold. Karzai is banking on President Obama’s troop escalation and counter-insurgency project inflicting such pain on the guerrillas that they will come to the negotiating table. But the council may also be a palliative to prominent Northern Alliance Afghans who feel marginalized by Karzai’s government. Pajhwok reports, “Two prominent political oppositions of the government, Burhanuddiin Rabbani and Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq are also believed to be part of the council.” These old-time Mujahidin fought the Taliban and it is difficult to imagine them getting much traction with them. Though it is true that some of what Washington now calls Taliban are just anti-American Mujahidin, Ronald Reagan’s ‘freedom fighters,’ who object to their country being occupied, and someone like Rabbani could maybe do some negotiating with them.

It sounds to me less significant a development than some in the US press are making it. Karzai has been talking to some of the insurgents for some time, and occasionally when he feels too pressured by the US he threatens to join them.

US commander Gen. David Petraeus is more upbeat in his assessment, saying he supports Karzai’s outreach efforts. He maintains that more than 20 small insurgent groups have approached the Afghanistan government or NATO forces about a peace agreement. (But what about the big insurgent groups?)

The USG Open Source Center translated a Pashto article from the Afghan Islamic Press for September 28, 2010, denying Petraeus’s assertion.

‘ The Salafi mojahedin (Wahabi fighters) have rejected reports of talks.

The Salafi group which operates within the framework of the Islamic Emirate of the Taleban in a statement on Tuesday (28 September) rejected reports that they had held talks with the Americans.

The statement says that the Salafi Taleban who has declared strongly allegiance to the Islamic Emirate has neither held any talks nor will hold talks in the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan.

The statement adds that when foreign forces leave Afghanistan, all sides will take this decision under the leadership of the Islamic Emirate and will accept the decision of Islamic Emirate in this regard. ‘

Of course, the Salafis (revivalists) could reject the talks without that disproving Petreaus’s assertions.

Operation ‘Cooperation’ (Hamkari) in the outskirts of Qandahar, an American and NATO attempt to pacify the environs of the major southern Pashtun city, has displaced 1,000 families in recent days. They have come flooding into Qandahar, where they are struggling.

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  1. So, is the operation called “Cooperation” (Hamkari because the different army units are cooperating, or is it because they come in, and the residents cooperate by fleeing for their lives? Like Karzai, I feel like weeping too but I don’t know if the reasons are the same. Having grown up on a farm, I find the story about the man who had to leave his orchard just as it was time to pick the pomegranates heartbreaking. What do we think this man is to do? His whole year’s livelihood may be ruined. That is if they don’t destroy his orchard in the process.

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