Amrullah Saleh

Key Afghan Opposition Leader Calls for a Truth Commission, Says Negotiation With Insurgents Possible

Former head of Afghanistan’s intelligence service, Amrullah Saleh, wrote an article on tacitly agreeing to the idea of negotiations with the Taliban and, rather curiously, calling for a truth commission as a way of reconciliation.

Saleh rejected Karzai’s “unconditional” offers of talks with the Taliban, but explained how negotiations might potentially occur:

Many Afghans believe that to get to a negotiated settlement, the Taliban leaders involved in talks should be relocated to Afghanistan from their current locations in Pakistan, where they are protected by Pakistan’s intelligence service.

This represents the softening of his stance towards negotiations with the Taliban, something that he has vehemently opposed in the past.

Saleh also called upon the international community to fund a truth-finding commission to “investigate human-rights violations, massacres and major crimes of the past 20 years.”

This call is not unprecedented in Afghanistan because civil society organizations have previously made similar demands. But in setting the time horizon at the 20-year mark, Saleh is moving beyond the era of Taliban atrocities and into the civil war years, a time when every major faction in Afghanistan – including his own – committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

There are political aims behind his call, no doubt, but his statement contributes towards mainstreaming the concept of reconciliation through truth-finding, a tried-and-true method of post-conflict peacebuilding that remains largely new in Afghanistan.

Given that most of Afghanistan’s worst perpetrators of war crimes essentially enjoy legal immunity from prosecution, truth-finding commissions are Afghanistan’s best hope at a sorely needed national healing process.