Mansour's killing: Waning prospect of Afghan peace process

US President Barack Obama said Mansour was targeted because he was an obstacle to the peace process

Mansour's killing: Waning prospect of Afghan peace process

Mohammad Pervez Bilgrami- India

The killing of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour on May 21 in a U.S. drone strike in Baluchistan, a southwestern province of Pakistan bordering Iran and Afghanistan, has attracted attention to Islamabad and its longstanding covert alliance with the Afghan Taliban. Mansour rose to the top position in August, after it emerged that the founder of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, had died in 2013.

Talibans might be busy putting their house in order before an official announcement. Being the leader of the Taliban is not an occupation that brings a long life expectancy; the Talibans might have succession plans always in place. After absorbing the initial shocks, on May 25, the Talibans have chosen one of the deputies to Mullah Mansour, Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada as their new chief while Sirajuddin Haqqani, the chief of the Haqqani network, and Mullah Yakoub, son of Taliban founder Mullah Omar, were appointed as his deputies.

Foremost consequence of the killing of Mansour in Baluchistan will be on Pakistan where Mullah Mansour was killed and Talibans have subsequently elected his successor. Now, the US has put Pakistan -the main patron of Afghan Taliban- in a very tricky position, where it will find it extremely difficult to cope with the situation arising from Mansur’s killing. It was also the first drone strike in Baluchistan province believed to be the base of Taliban since they were ousted after the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2003.

Pakistani Interior Minister, Chaudhry Nisar Khan, said the slain Taliban commander was willing to return to the table once he consolidated his control over the group. US and Pakistan are now bickering on a daily basis after Mansour’s killing.

Obama had always signaled his mistrust in Pakistan, however killing of Mulla Mansour though apparently a tactical success may turn out to be a strategic error. The elimination of Mansour has certainly stalled the ongoing peace process for quite some time. By killing Mullah Mansur the outgoing US president might just be trying to keep things on hold and hand it over to the next President to decide the future of their Afghan misadventure.

By eliminating Mansur the US might be planning to create a further division among the already fragile Taliban, and then with the help of a divided group they hope to create a strong ISIS group in Afghanistan a powerful rival fighting force against the Taliban. With this the fighting in Afghanistan will become triangular where Taliban will have to fight both-- the renewed ISIS and Afghan security forces. Previously those who declared allegiance to ISIS in Afghanistan were the remnants of TTP factions of Pakistan that has been trying to gain a foothold in Afghanistan at the expense of the Taliban. Talibans have already trampled most of these small groups.

Iran has also been trying to expand its links with the Taliban that may come to play a formal role in Afghan politics if peace talks ever prove successful. The Iranian angle is also coming up in the killing of Akhtar Mansur; Hizbe-i- Islami chief Gulbudin Hekmatyar with whom Afghan administration has reached the peace deal accused Iran for tipping of the US about Mansur’s movements. The pseudonymous passport on the name of Wali Muhammad recovered from the diseased suggest that he was coming from Iran through Taftan border crossing and entered Iran on March 28 on valid visa. Mansour’s killing may negatively impact already fragile Iran-Pakistan ties.

It has also been reported by western media that Pakistan was on board in the Mansour’s killing since he was not agreeing for peace talks. Mansour’s killing might also be a well thought US scheme to damage the delicate balance between Pakistan and the Taliban after the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) dialogue process. With the killing of Mansour the impact of the divide-and-rule strategy may be emerging where Pakistan and Afghanistan are already divided, division between Pakistan and Iran may further heighten and the wedge between Taliban and Pakistan may also deepen.

Though Mansour’s killing is not expected to have any impact on the ground situation on Afghanistan’s fighting scene, Taliban’s spring offensive against Afghan security forces and remaining foreign forces will go on as before even with more vigour and vengeance.

Since Pakistan and US both were part of QCG along with China and Afghanistan, the purpose of which was to create conducive environment for the peace talks between the Kabul administration and the Taliban. It’s interesting how US played a double game here killing two birds with one stone. They not only eliminated their target but also enhanced problems for Pakistan and to certain extent for China and Afghanistan.

There is something deeply fishy that questions the US’ intention. First, the death of Mullah Umar was intentionally leaked out after the first round of Murree peace process, and now the Killing of Mullah Mansour has placed the QCG peace process at the back burner. It seems now that with the emerging geopolitical scenario in the region, US wants to keep its presence in Afghanistan with the residual force. On the contrary any peace deal with Talibans will not sanction for its military presence in Afghanistan.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 29 Haziran 2016, 22:57