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Straight from the Specialists

Rabbani assassination and Pakistani defiance crush prospects for Afghan peace

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The assassination of former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was in charge of the High Peace Council pursuing reconciliation talks with the Taliban, is a clarifying moment for Afghans who had hoped Rabbani’s efforts would bring peace to the war-ravaged country.

The assassination is a body blow to the political reconciliation process and will reinforce resistance among the country’s ethnic minority leaders to the very idea of seeking political accommodation with the Taliban.

Rabbani’s assassination on Tuesday is eerily similar to that of Northern Alliance commander Ahmed Shah Massoud 10 years ago in both how it was conducted and the impact it will have on political dynamics within Afghanistan. It is likely to strengthen ethnic divisions in the country and embolden hardline Taliban elements that are unwilling to compromise politically and retain close links to al-Qaeda.

Obama’s hasty Afghanistan withdrawal risks squandering gains

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

U.S. military commanders on the ground in Afghanistan had reportedly requested a slower pace of withdrawal to afford them the opportunity to consolidate recent gains against Taliban insurgents.  President Obama has denied his military commanders flexibility to determine the pace and scope of withdrawal based on conditions on the ground, and instead appears to have based his decision largely around the U.S. domestic political calendar.

After bin Laden: Do not retreat from Afghanistan

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The killing of Osama bin Laden should strengthen U.S. resolve to stabilise Afghanistan and ensure that it does not return to serving as a safe haven for terrorists intent on attacking the U.S. homeland.

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