- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 11, 2001

NEW YORK President Bush last night announced he does not want the Northern Alliance to take the Afghan capital of Kabul because it might destabilize neighboring Pakistan, which is opposed to the Northern Alliance and fears it is growing too powerful.
Mr. Bush's announcement came after Alim Khan, a Northern Alliance commander, said an attack on the city was to start within three days.
Putting a sudden damper on the alliance's hard-fought victory over the strategic northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif Friday, Mr. Bush declared the rebels should go only so far in wresting control of Afghanistan away from the Taliban.
"We will encourage our friends to head south across the Shumali Plains, but not into the city of Kabul itself," Mr. Bush said in a joint news conference with Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. "And we believe we can accomplish our military missions by that strategy."
Gen. Musharraf appeared delighted that the United States had come around to his way of thinking.
"I agree with the president totally," he said, standing by Mr. Bush in a Manhattan hotel. "Why I have been recommending that Kabul should not be occupied by the Northern Alliance basically is because of the past experience that we've had."
"When the various ethnic groups were ahold of Kabul after the Soviets left, there was total atrocities, killings and mayhem within the city," he said. "And I think if the Northern Alliance enters Kabul, we'll see the same kind of atrocities being perpetuated against the people there."
Mr. Bush declined to say whether he agreed with that assessment. But he did agree with Gen. Musharraf's argument that the only way to maintain stability in the region was to keep the Northern Alliance in check.
"We share a common view that in order for there to be a country that is stable and peaceful on this good leader's western border, that any power arrangement must be shared with the different tribes within Afghanistan," said the president. "And a key signal of that will be how the city of Kabul is treated."
It was not the only American overture to Pakistan, an uneasy ally that is calling for a quick end to the U.S.-led military campaign. Mr. Bush also showered Pakistan with $1 billion in aid and pledged U.S. support in restructuring the nation's $38 billion debt. Most of the aid was first announced last week by the State Department.
"Pakistan's efforts against terror are benefiting the entire world and linking Pakistan more closely with the world," Mr. Bush said. "The United States wants to help build these linkages."
He added: "I'm pleased that the president is committed to restore democracy in Pakistan. Pakistan is a strong ally."
It was a dramatic change from two months ago, when the United States was still imposing sanctions on Pakistan and India for conducting underground nuclear tests in 1998. Mr. Bush lifted those sanctions shortly after enlisting both countries in the war against terrorism.
Yesterday's announcement means American tax dollars will be given to the only nation that refuses to sever ties with Afghanistan's ruling Taliban.
The aid comes just as thousands of students from Pakistan's madrassas, or religious schools, are crossing the border into Afghanistan to join the Taliban army.
Still, Pakistan agreed in September to pressure the Taliban to surrender Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist network. That put Pakistan in an awkward position, in part because of its long opposition to the India-backed Northern Alliance, which has been fighting the Taliban for years.
"I did apprise the president on Pakistan's concerns and for Pakistan's difficulties from the fallout of whatever is happening in our region," said Gen. Musharraf. "And let me very gladly say that the president showed total concern for it and also assured us, assured Pakistan, to help out in the maximum possible way."
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell also told reporters yesterday it would be best if the opposition did not move immediately toward Kabul, since the city's population is likely to be hostile to it.
Yesterday's announcement of constraints on the Northern Alliance also puts the United States in an awkward position, since the rebels have done the lion's share of fighting on the ground since Mr. Bush began his military offensive against the Taliban. But even setting aside Pakistan's qualms, the Bush administration feared that a sweeping takeover of Afghanistan by the alliance would plant the seeds of yet another civil war.
Still, the restraint could demoralize the Northern Alliance. It also recalls former President George Bush's decision to stop short of Baghdad in the 1991 Persian Gulf war, which many believe came back to haunt him.
Earlier yesterday, the president scolded the United Nations for coddling human rights abusers and warned that some countries are not pulling their weight in the war against terrorism.
"In this war of terror, each of us must answer for what we have done or what we have left undone," Mr. Bush told the U.N. General Assembly. "Some governments still turn a blind eye to the terrorists, hoping the threat will pass them by. They are mistaken."
Although the president thanked nations that have helped the United States, he emphasized that "more is required and more is expected of our coalition against terror." Without naming names, he pointed out that "every nation in our coalition has duties. These duties can be demanding, as we in America are learning."
Mr. Bush used his first address to the General Assembly to admonish the United Nations for putting the Sudan and other countries with poor human rights records on the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in May. The move displaced the United States from the commission, which already included Libya and Syria both state sponsors of terrorism.
"This struggle is a defining moment for the United Nations," the president said as the delegates sat in stony silence. "It undermines the credibility of this great institution, for example, when the Commission on Human Rights offers seats to the world's most persistent violators of human rights."
Mr. Bush was originally scheduled to address the General Assembly on Sept. 24, but the speech was postponed by the terrorist attacks less than two weeks earlier. Yesterday's address was attended by Yasser Arafat, with whom the president has refused to meet because he says the Palestinian leader has not done enough to discourage terrorism against Israel.
"We will do all in our power to bring both parties back into negotiations," Mr. Bush said. "But peace will come only when all have sworn off forever incitement, violence and terror."
Mr. Bush tried to convince world leaders that their nations are every bit as vulnerable to terrorism as the United States is.
Mr. Bush today will visit Ground Zero, where hijacked jetliners toppled the World Trade Center's twin towers two months ago.
Mr. Bush yesterday cast the struggle against terrorism in historic terms.
"History has an author who fills time and eternity with his purpose," the president said. "We did not ask for this mission, yet there is honor in history's call."
"We have a chance to write the story of our times, a story of courage defeating cruelty and light overcoming darkness. This calling is worthy of any life and worthy of every nation," he concluded. "So let us go forward confident, determined and unafraid."


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