- The Washington Times - Friday, October 12, 2001

The United States is using the lure of foreign aid to piece together a broad coalition to govern Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban, a State Department official said yesterday.
"Were there to be a broad-based government in Afghanistan, we would intend to help that government with reconstruction, with developing the country," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell leaves this weekend for South Asia, where he will discuss with Pakistani leaders the future shape of Afghanistan, said Mr. Powell's deputy Richard Armitage.
"We've had discussions with some of our coalition partners about the eventual shape of an Afghanistan," Mr. Armitage told reporters at the State Department.
"We don't want a Pashtun totally dominated or a Tajik-Uzbek totally dominated government. It has to be one that's more broad-based and representative."
He referred to the major ethnic groups in Afghanistan the Pashtuns who dominate the Taliban and the Tajiks and Uzbeks who dominate the Northern Alliance rebels.
Opposition Afghans met yesterday to try to cobble together their own version of a new government to end decades of war and repression.
In the dusty lanes of the Pakistani border city of Peshawar, in towns of northern Afghanistan controlled by the Northern Alliance, in Rome where the former Afghan king, Mohammed Zahir Shah, lives, as well as in Washington, Afghans pleaded for support from their fellow Afghans and from America.
But any future regime in Kabul also must be acceptable to Afghanistan's neighbors Pakistan, Iran and the Russian-backed Central Asian republics say analysts.
Afghanistan's neighbors all agree with the United States that the Taliban must be ousted, but they have different ideas about who should rule in its place.
Pakistan has urged the United States not to provide supportive air bombardments that would help the Northern Alliance seize power in Kabul. Until recent weeks, Pakistan had backed the Taliban against the alliance. It fears having a resentful neighbor on its northern border.
"Pakistanis don't trust the alliance and they don't want it," said Stephen Cohen of the Brookings Institution, a former State Department official.
"A gathering of major ethnic and religious groups could form some kind of government coalition if it was the conduit for significant [U.S. financial] aid," he said.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld this week voiced strong support for the various anti-Taliban groups in Afghanistan, saying, "We would like to see them heave the al Qaeda and the Taliban leadership out of that country."
But needing Pakistan for intelligence, logistics and other support, it has withheld the air attacks on Taliban forces defending Kabul.
Northern Alliance spokeswoman Otilie English said yesterday in Washington that the group had "no intention" of taking Kabul before a broad-based tribal council was held to agree on the shape of a new government.
Pakistan's military government spokesman Lt. Gen. Rashid Qureshi said yesterday by telephone from Rawalpindi, Pakistan, that his government was not seeking to promote any special group of Afghans to replace the Taliban.
"Pakistan has always said any future government should be acceptable to the people of Afghanistan," Gen. Qureshi said.
Asked about a proposed return of King Zahir, who refused to abandon claims to parts of Pakistan when he ruled from 1933 to 1973, the general said his government would not object "if the people of Afghanistan want the king and it's acceptable to the world."
In Peshawar, headquarters for many of the 2 million Afghan refugees remaining in Pakistan since the 1980-1990 war against the Soviet Union, former guerrilla leaders are emerging in the hopes of gaining a role in the future government.
The mainly Pashtun exiles have been holding small sessions among themselves or with King Zahir in Rome.
The United Nations and the European Union also may play a role in supporting reconstruction of a post-Taliban Afghanistan.
U.N. specialists in political affairs and peacekeeping say the country is too big, too poor and too suspicious of outsiders to lend itself to models developed for tiny East Timor, or centrally located Kosovo.
"Whatever we do there, it will have to be with the consent of the people," said one peacekeeping analyst. "Outsiders don't fare very well there, history has shown us."
Staff writer Betsy Pisik contributed to this article.


LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide