Thursday, September 20, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Taliban ready for talks
USA wants action, not talks

Islamabad, September 19
The leader of Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban today said he was prepared to hold talks with the USA over Osama bin Laden, the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reported while Washington said it wanted action not talks, even as the Islamic clerics are expected to continue talks tomorrow.

“We have not tried to create problems with America,’’ Mullah Mohammad Omar told a gathering of Islamic clerics called to discuss the fate of Saudi-born exile Bin Laden and the possibility of US air strikes.

“We have had several talks with the present and the past American governments and we are ready for (further) talks.’’

The USA, which has vowed to punish those behind last week’s attacks on New York and Washington, has identified Bin Laden as the key suspect. Bin Laden has denied any involvement in the devastating suicide attacks.

The USA today told Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban it wants action, not negotiations after the Taliban reportedly offered to hold talks over Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the attacks on New York and Washington.

“The President’s message to the Taliban is very simple — it’s time for action not negotiations,’’ White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

He was responding to comments by Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, who — according to the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press — said he was ready to hold talks with the USA over Bin Laden. The Taliban allows the Saudi-born exile to stay in Afghanistan as a “guest.”

Asked to explain further, Fleischer would only say President George W. Bush wanted the Taliban to “take the actions necessary to no longer harbour terrorists — whatever form that takes.”

In another development, the American efforts to build an anti-Taliban coalition in Afghanistan to fight the fundamentalist militia from within appears to be floundering with anti-Taliban Afghan commanders and opposition leaders threatening to join their foe to ward off any US and allied attacks on Afghanistan.

A leading figure in Afghanistan’s anti-Taliban opposition, Gulbuddin Hekmatiyar who is currently based in Tehran and other anti-Taliban commanders in Pakistan have threatened to join wanted Saudi dissident, Osama bin Laden if the US attacks the militia.

With prominent Afghan rebel commander, Ahmad Shah Masood dying in a recent suicide attacks on him allegedly executed by Bin Laden’s associates, Hekmatiyar too announced that he would be joining Taliban soon to reinforce its hands to fight US aggression.

Hekmatiyar, in an interview to BBC in Tehran, said that Americans are wrong to blame Osama for the attacks in USA.

He said Americans had no right to attack Afghanistan and warned that if they did, his and other groups would fight against them.

Another Afghan commander a Pakistan daily “The News” the forces of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance till now headed by Masood, would also join the fight against Americans. Reuters


UN: hand over Bin Laden unconditionally

United Nations, September 19
The UN Security Council has asked the Taliban militia in Afghanistan to “immediately and unconditionally” surrender Osama bin Laden, whom the USA wants ‘dead or alive’ for his suspected role in last Tuesday’s terror strikes.

In its strongest ever statement issued against the Taliban, the council said “There is one and only message the Security Council has for the Taliban; implement United Nations Security Council resolutions, in particular the...Resolution 1333, immediately and unconditionally.”

The resolution passed in December, 2000, demands handing over of Bin Laden and closure of terrorist training camps on the Taliban territory. PTIBack


Clerics’ fatwa likely today

Islamabad, September 19
The council of Islamic clerics from Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban is expected to take a final decision on the fate of Osama bin Laden tomorrow.

“It is expected that the session will continue tomorrow and the final discussion and fatwa (edict) can be expected,’’ Taliban Education Minister Mullah Amir Khan Muttaqi, a member of the council, was quoted as saying.

He described the current crisis facing Afghanistan as “tense’’ and said any decision taken would be in accordance with Islamic Shariat law. Laden, lives as a guest of the Taliban.

Meanwhile, chances of extradition of Bin Laden from Afghanistan appeared bleak today with a defiant Taliban supremo Mullah Mohammad Omar virtually rejecting the American demand and asked a gathering of country’s religious scholars to give an edict in the event of a US attack.

The rejection came at an inconclusive meeting of the “Shoora” council of about 1,000 clerics, hours after the UN Security Council in New York asked the Taliban militia to “immediately and unconditionally” surrender Bin Laden.

KABUL: Hundreds of Afghan Muslim clerics on Wednesday listened to a warning from their supreme leader that international calls to hand over Osama bin Laden were a pretext to destroy Afghanistan’s purist Taliban rulers.

“The enemies of this country look on the Islamic system as a thorn in their eye and they seek different excuses to finish it off,’’ Mullah Mohammad Omar, spiritual leader of the Taliban, said in a speech read out to the clerics. ReutersBack

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