Sunday, September 23, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Afghan oppn team to meet ex-king

Islamabad, September 22
The Afghan opposition alliance today sent a team of officials to Rome for talks with ex-king Mohammad Zahir Shah on a future government for the war-ravaged country if possible US attacks depose the ruling Taliban.

The last few days have seen a flurry of political manoeuvring focusing on a possible role for the ailing 86-year-old former king, deposed three decades ago but seen as one of the few figures who might be able to unite Afghanistan’s warring factions since he hails from the dominant Pushtun tribe.

The opposition team represents various factions opposed to the purist Taliban movement and holds around 10 per cent of Afghanistan, said Sayed Najibullah Hashimi, a spokesman for the Northern Alliance that is led by Burhanuddin Rabbani.

He said the move was not linked to possible US attacks against Taliban rulers who are sheltering Osama bin Laden.

However, the trip to Rome was almost certainly aimed at discussing the possibility of reinstating the ailing king, who was deposed in 1973, but is still seen by many Afghans as a symbol of unity among the many different ethnic groups that patchwork the landlocked and rugged land.

“The delegation will also get in touch with other Afghan groups abroad about the future structure of a government for Afghanistan,” Hashimi told Reuters from the north-eastern town of Faizabad, the main bastion of the opposition government that the Taliban overthrew in 1996, but which is still recognised by many countries as well as the UN.

“We are keen to attract their attention for the establishment of a broad-based government representing all strata and acceptable to the world’s countries,” he said.

The opposition team is headed by Yonus Qanoni, a top political aide to Rabbani and to his former military leader, Ahmad Shah Masood, who died last week after a suicide assassination attack.

Rabbani and most in his alliance are from the minority Tajik ethnic group and have said they want to join any US attack. But even if their forces were to make gains against the Taliban, they would be unlikely to find sufficient backing to set up a government without a Pushtun presence. ReutersBack

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |