Taliban explain Ahmad Wali's
killing By M K Bhadrakumar
The Taliban have issued a statement
offering an explanation for the assassination in
the southern Afghan city of Kandahar of Ahmad Wali
Karzai, the younger half-brother of President
This statement was released
on Thursday - the same day a suicide bomber
disrupted the memorial service in Kandahar for
Ahmad Wali, killing three people, including
Maulawi Ekmatullah, the head of the local ulema
shura (provincial religious council).
Earlier, the burial of Ahmad Wali on
Tuesday, attended by President Karzai, passed off
without incident. But the Taliban targeted the
memorial service, which was held for those who were
had traveled from remote
places and couldn't attend the funeral.
Direct references in the Taliban statement
to the Afghan president were conspicuous in their
absence. The focus was almost entirely on Ahmad
Wali, since the Taliban wanted the Afghan elites
to draw the necessary conclusions as to why the
49-year-old head of Kandahar's elected provincial
council had to be eliminated.
squarely and unambiguously blamed the
assassination on the fact that Ahmad Wali worked
for the United States Central Intelligence Agency
(CIA). Interestingly, the whole world is focusing
on Ahmad Wali as an archetypal Afghan "warlord"
and fascinating yarns are being churned out by the
hour on the amorphous phenomenon of Afghan
"warlordism"; but the Taliban zero in on the
kernel of the truth. Nothing else about Ahmad Wali
matters to them.
Indeed, the Taliban
expose that Ahmad Wali was a "kingpin of the
regime in south Afghanistan" in his capacity as
the leader of the provincial council. He was the
"most trusted person" of the US-led coalition
forces occupying Afghanistan.
point out that Ahmad Wali cooperated with the
"Americans, Canadians and Britons" in the latters'
campaign to gain control of the southwestern
region of Afghanistan - not only Kandahar. (The
governor of Helmand province, Gulab Mangal, was
targeted in Maiwand district with an improvised
explosive device as he was travelling to Kandahar
on Tuesday to attend Ahmad Wali's funeral.)
Ahmad Wali obviously crossed the "red
line" in helping US commander General David
Petraeus' troop surge. The Taliban said he "played
a key role in spreading the net of intelligence of
the Western invaders and boosting their sway in
But the clincher
was that this wasn't retribution for past sins.
"Even now, he [Ahmad Wali] received a high salary
from the CIA." This is as close as the Taliban get
to suggesting that they apprehended that with
Petraeus' elevation as the head of the CIA, Ahmad
Wali would have an even greater potential to
inflict damage on their interests. What emerges is
that Ahmad Wali has paid with his life the
political cost of the measure of success that
Petraeus can claim for his "surge" policy in
by removing the "kingpin", the Taliban intend to
nullify the gains of the "surge" and also pre-empt
any further moves by Petraeus, who has gone on
record that he would expect the locus of the
military operations to now shift to the eastern
region, where the US would rely more on
intelligence and would count less on boots on the
The Taliban statement squarely
identifies Ahmad Wali with the excesses of the
military operations in the southwestern region. It
details the kind of atrocities that Western forces
perpetrated, and then adds, "No doubt, in all
these crimes, Ahmad Wali Karzai was complicit as
the first person responsible for the [Kandahar]
province ... Now, he has received his punishment."
Interestingly, although President Karzai
invariably insists that the buck stops with him as
regards the US's war crimes, the Taliban say
otherwise. Their statement then steps back and
begins to reflect on the political message for the
Afghan elites - "Those Afghans who cooperate with
the invading forces in contravention of their
religion, country and native [traditional] values
should take a lesson ... They should reconsider
their behavior and actions." For, the Afghan
nation cannot "tolerate" their cooperation with
the foreign occupation forces or their
acquiescence to the occupation itself.
statement gives a chilling warning to those who
collaborate, warning them that they cannot hope to
take refuge in high-security zones under Western
military protection - behind "barbed wires,
cemented walls, sand bags" - as the long arm of
the Taliban can reach everywhere.
Taliban, however, say they are prepared to show
latitude to those who may have collaborated with
the US up until now - provided they "rethink, and
abandon their subservience to the non-believing
invaders". That is to say, "influential, educated
and experienced Afghans" still have a choice even
if they don't want to join the ranks of the
Taliban or work with the Taliban insofar as they
can "at least leave the path of support of the
non-believers and start an ordinary life".
On the contrary, if they persist with
their "submissive work", then, "you'll meet the
same fate like General Daoud and Ahmad Wali
Karzai". (The police chief for northern
Afghanistan and the commander of the 303 Pamir
Corps, Mohammed Daud, was killed by a suicide
bomber in Takhar on May 29.)
underlying thought process in the Taliban
statement needs to be noted. This is an outright
political statement and not a dogmatic
al-Qaeda-like "jihadi" diatribe against the
"decadent" West. Its focus is unmistakably on the
Taliban's resolve not to compromise under any
circumstances on the central question of the
Western military presence on Afghan soil.
In sum, Ahmad Wali has been killed for
being the CIA's point person in Afghanistan.
Equally, the comparison with Daud is striking.
Daud was a prominent "Panjshiri" who worked
closely with North Atlantic Treaty Organization
forces in the northern region. He was also a
kingpin, so to speak, for the German forces
stationed in the Amu Darya region.
Conceivably, the Taliban underline by this
comparison that the killing of Daud had nothing to
do with him being a key non-Pashtun figure
connected with the late Ahmad Shah Massoud or the
erstwhile Northern Alliance's anti-Taliban
resistance in the late 1990s.
also an implicit warning here for President Karzai
and his team that it would be a fatal mistake if
they succumbed to US pressure to allow the
establishment of permanent military bases in
Afghanistan on the pattern of what Washington is
attempting to do in Iraq.
statement makes it clear that the Quetta
shura (the Taliban's high council) could
have overlooked just about any aberration in Ahmad
Wali's political profile - such as his strong-arm
methods as a "warlord" or even his alleged
involvement in drug trafficking or embezzlement of
funds from the central bank - but what they could
not afford to tolerate was that he continued to be
the CIA's collaborator.
No doubt, Ahmad
Wali's killing constitutes a devastating challenge
to Petraeus personally. It comes on the eve of his
departure from the war zone and it virtually
unscrambles the omelette that the plucky US
commander made at the fag-end of his military
career. The "surge" has now become all but just
another inconsequential page in the history of the
Afghan war rather than the turning point it was
meant to be.
More importantly, as the head
of the CIA, Petraeus now has to confront the
challenge of working in the southern Afghanistan
region in an "intelligence vacuum". Ahmad Wali was
a hands-on operative who didn't leave behind a
replacement so to speak. He is irreplaceable, in
fact. He had a finger in every pie cooking in the
Kandahar region, ranging from providing security
for the coalition forces to the US's nascent
contacts with the Taliban.
All in all, the
most striking aspect of the Taliban statement is
that it deftly sidesteps President Karzai. He is
not bracketed with Ahmad Wali's "crimes".
The fact that the Taliban made no attempt
to disrupt the funeral on Tuesday is significant.
The Taliban waited for full two days after the
funeral was over to come out with the statement.
After all, they took the life of a chief of the
Ambassador M K
Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the
Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included
the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany,
Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and
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