The Ex-Taleban on the High Peace Council: A renewed role for the Khuddam ul-Furqan?
AAN’s latest discussion paper by Thomas Ruttig provides a first analysis of the former Taleban members on the newly-established Afghan High Peace Council (HPC), of what their possible role may be in this body, their political and historical background as well as the development of their positions vis-à-vis a possible process of negotiations.
An analysis of the 70 HPC 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 of the HPC held positions in the Taleban Emirate’s government between 1996 and 2001.
Within the dozen or so former Taleban on the HPC, a group of four to six individuals is the most interesting one. It is rooted in the Khuddam ul-Furqan(KhF), an Islamist group already founded in the 1960s, long before the emergence of the Taleban movement to which it later contributed. This long political history gives its members strong political 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 peace and reconciliation-related issues, from the angle of their former Taleban membership.
In mid-2008, the group launched a 7-point plan under the self-explanatory 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 it did not come to bear at that time, it influenced thinking about an approach to possible negotiations with the Taleban at least amongst elements of the Afghan government. Members of the group have resumed presenting these ideas to the public after their appointment to the HPC, in particular with respect to confidence-building measures.
The KhF group on the HPC 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 Mansur network within the larger Taleban movement, or even to its leadership in the ‘Quetta shura’.
The full report can be downloaded here