PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN, FEB. 16 -- The assassination last week of a prominent Afghan exile here has shaken the community of Afghan intellectuals and experts in this country at a critical stage in the Afghan conflict.

Syed Majrooh, a former professor at Kabul University, was killed by an unknown gunman at the office of his Afghan Information Center news service on the outskirts of this frontier city.

Majrooh, 55, was one of the few people who had managed to establish a place for himself in the Afghan exile community here without getting involved in party politics. He was one of the least likely to become caught up in the mounting violence that has shaken this area in recent months.

Majrooh published a monthly bulletin on military and political developments in the Afghan rebel war against Soviet and Soviet-backed troops in Afghanistan. He received visiting journalists and other westerners who turned to him as one of the more impartial observers of his country's affairs.

"If a solution to the Afghan coflict is found and the refugees are allowed to return home, the nation will desperately need the help of all educated Afghans now living abroad for the reconstruction of the war-torn country," according to a statement by leaders of private international relief groups based here. "The assassination of Professor Majrooh will undoubtedly have negative consequences in this respect."

"It was the perfect terrorist act. They got their target and everybody is left blaming different groups," said one diplomat. "How can you build a new Afghanistan without these people?" asked another diplomat.

Some Afghan resistance sources speculated that his death could be linked to a power struggle within the various Peshawar-based resistance groups. Majrooh and other intellectuals symbolized support for more moderate politicians and especially for the former king of Afghanistan, Zahir Shah.

Diplomats and some other rebel sources speculate that the communist regime in Kabul may have been involved in his death, not only to frighten away educated Afghans but also to sow suspicion among the resistance groups at a time when they are straining to unite.

Educated at Kabul University and in France, Majrooh had been dean of the literature faculty at the university, ambassador to West Germany and governor of Kapeesa Province under king Shah. His English was good, his French was flawless; he spoke German, Russian and Arabic in addition to his native Dari and Pashto, in which he wrote poetry that was widely known and appreciated.

Among the several hundred attending his funeral last Friday were other exile intellectuals, diplomats, aid workers and representatives of many of the Afghan political parties, including Yunis Khalis, leader of the resistance alliance, and Burhannuddin Rebbani, leader of the Jamiat-i-Islami Party, two of the most prominent leaders of the more fundamentalist resistance groups.

Only a few days before Majrooh's death, Khalis had issued a call for Afghan intellectuals to return to their homeland to help build a new country.

"He could have gone to the West and made a good life for himself, but he stayed here to help the resistance," Khalis reportedly said. "I may not have liked his politics, but he is the kind of man we needed for the future."