Sunday, September 28, 2008

Leading policewoman Malalai Kakar shot dead in Afghanistan

Leading policewoman Malalai Kakar shot dead in Afghanistan

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From

September 29, 2008

Taleban gunmen shot dead Afghanistan's most high-profile policewoman yesterday as her teenage son prepared to drive her to work.

Malalai Kakar, the head of the city of Kandahar's department for crimes against women, had been the subject of numerous media reports and was famous for her bravery throughout Afghanistan. She had survived several assassination attempts.

A spokesman for the Taleban said that the assassination was carried out by its gunmen. “We killed Malalai Kakar,” said Yousuf Ahmadi. “She was our target, and we successfully eliminated our target.”

Her death came as reports emerged of a Saudi-brokered initiative to negotiate between the Afghan Government and the Taleban.

The reports, which are regarded as credible by Western diplomats, suggest that the initiative involves a senior former member of the Taleban leadership as a go-between.

One key objective of the initiative is reported to be a drive to separate the Taleban, an organisation whose objectives have historically been rooted in nationalist goals, from those of the global jihadists of al-Qaeda.

Fran├žois Fillon, the French Prime Minister, appeared to allude to the initiative during a French parliamentary debate on Afghanistan last week when he said: “We must explore ways of separating the international jihadists from those who are acting more for nationalist or tribal motives. Efforts in this direction are being led by Sunni [Muslim] countries such as Saudi Arabia.”

Britain is alleged to have provided logistical and diplomatic support, though the report suggested that the Saudi plan had “run out of steam” in recent weeks because the Taleban had made inconsistent demands.

A spokesman for the British Embassy told The Times: “I am not aware of the initiative. Any support Britain would provide to such a process would be to the Afghan Government's own negotiation processes. Such negotiations are a part of the counter-insurgency campaign and you can't separate the two.”

Analysts in the Afghan capital were cautious about the prospects for such an initiative.

“I think that the reports the Taleban are getting say that the Karzai regime is on the verge of collapse and the Westerners can't last much longer. I would not hold my breath on the Taleban approaching talks with any sincerity,” said one analyst. “But talking is good and it is important to show a way out to Taleban who realise the costs and doubt their own propaganda.”

Warrior students

— The name “Taleban” derives from the Arabic word for “religious students”

— The group began as a Sunni Islamist movement

— They took control of Afghanistan in 1996

— They outlawed music, films and kite-flying, banned women from studying and working and forced all men to grow beards

— They were overthrown in 2001

— Since 2005 the movement has regrouped

— The original leader, Mullah Omar, is believed to be in Pakistan

Source: Times database, www.infoplease.com

Copyright 2008 Times Newspapers Ltd.

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