June 23, 2014
KABUL, June 23 — A suicide bomber blew up his explosive-laden car next to the bullet-proof vehicle of Masoom Stanikzai, secretariat chief for the government-backed High Peace Council, on Saturday (2 weeks ago) in Kabul City, killing the suicide bomber and a passerby and injuring three others but Stanikzai narrowly escaped, according to the police.
Local political observers believe that the brazen attack against the high-rank member of the government-backed peace body was a major blow to the government-initiated peace process with the Taliban militants. “Since one of the policies of Taliban outfit is to target and physically eliminate peacemaking and peace loving personalities, their attack on Mr. Stanikzai on Saturday would damage the ongoing peace process,” a political analyst and editor in chief of the newspaper Daily Afghanistan, Mohammad Reza Hweda, said in talks with Xinhua.
The High Peace Council, in a statement released hours after the suicide attack, blamed “the enemies of peace” in Afghanistan for the attack and strongly condemned it. “The terrorists and the enemies of Afghanistan, by staging the suicide attack against Stanikzai, was an attempt to physically eliminate him and deprive the country of a patriotic citizen and also to block the peace process from pushing through,” the statement said.
Although the “enemies of peace” is a term used by Afghan officials against the Taliban militants, the government-backed High Peace Council did not directly put the blame on any specific group or individual behind the attack.
Stanikzai, who is a an adviser to President Hamid Karzai, is a staunch supporter of peace talks with the Taliban and is hopeful that efforts for negotiation with militants would soon lead to national reconciliation and peace in the strife-torn country.
Established in 2010, the High Peace Council is authorized to contact the Taliban militants and other similar groups to lay down arms and join the government. “The government should have a clear definition from the enemies of peace. The government has to tell the people who the enemies of peace are, otherwise, the people would get confused,” Hweda told Xinhua.
Taliban militants fighting the government have repeatedly rejected President Hamid Karzai government’s offer for peace talks, saying there will be no talks with the Kabul administration as long as foreign troops are still stationed in Afghanistan.
Even though the public opinion in Kabul has blamed Taliban militants for the attack on Stanikzai, the militant group has yet to claim responsibility.
Taliban militants, in a suicide attack in September 2011, also targeted Stanikzai’s former chief, chairman of High Peace Council Burhanudin Rabbani in his Kabul residence, killing Rabbani along with four of his bodyguards. In that attack Stanikzai was also injured.
The majority of the Afghan people believe that the Taliban militants do not really want peace but want to return to power through an armed struggle and re-impose their brutal brand of Islamic rule in the country.
According to Afghan analysts, no ranking Taliban leaders have joined the government-initiated peace process over the past couple of years, even though the government has freed hundreds of militants from prisons.
The freed detainees in many cases have rejoined their former comrades and began fighting the Afghan forces and NATO-led forces stationed in Afghanistan.