Wednesday, December 5, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Karzai to head Afghan govt

Ahmad Wali Masood, brother of the assassinated legendary Alliance commander Ahmad Shah Masood and a senior member of the Northern Alliance attending the UN-sponsored Afghan talks here, said that an interim Afghan administration would assume power on December 22. 

Bonn, December 4
Southern Afghanistan leader Hamid Karzai, 44, is to be named chief of the nation’s new interim government, United Nations sources said today as the talks in Bonn grappled with the task of sharing out power in the provisional administration.

Karzai has not been attending the United Nations-sponsored conference in Bonn on Afghanistan’s political future but is at present leading the fight against pro-Taliban forces near the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.

The other major candidate for the post of interim government chief was Abdul Sattar Sirat. A key adviser of the former Afghan King, Mohommed Zaher Shah, Sirat is understood to have withdrawn from the race.

United Nations officials and the 50 Afghan leaders and their advisers meeting in Bonn are working through the around 150 names that the four factions have presented to cut them back to the 28 posts available on the proposed interim administration.

In addition to professional competence and personal integrity, UN spokesman Ahmad Fawzi acknowledged that Afghanistan’s complex tribal and regional groups also needed to be taken into account in the new government.

“The most important thing is ethnic balance,” said Fawzi, adding that the allocation of posts in the new government would also have to be “gender sensitive.”

With women having emerged as prominent victims of the Taliban’s repressive rule, there is talk at the conference that the interim administration will include a ministry for womens’ and children’s affairs.

At least one of the vice premiers’ jobs in the new government is expected to be allocated to a woman.

Post-Taliban’s Afghanistan’s immediate political future is set out in an accord which the Afghan leaders meeting in Bonn have agreed to and which the UN hopes to have signed tomorrow ahead of a conference of international donors in Berlin. “Now we have a road map to a free and independent Afghanistan,” said Fawzi. DPABack


Kandahar Governor killed

Kandahar/Islamabad, December 4
The Taliban Governor of Afghanistan’s southern province of Kandahar has been killed in US bombings, unconfirmed reports said.

Mullah Ameer Hasan Rehmani fell victim to US bombings on Arghandab town on the outskirts of Kandahar city yesterday night, SADA reported.

Taliban spokesman Tayyab Agha denied the reports. A Taliban official, however, anonymously said Rehmani sustained injuries in the attack and was alive in Kandahar Mirwais Hospital.

Sources said the Governor was hosting an Iftar banquet in honour of another Taliban commander, Shireen Khan of Farah province, when the US bombed the area.

Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar, also invited to the Iftar party, could not make it to the venue, which was heavily bombed by US jets soon after the Muslims at the site broke their fast, sources said.

Besides Rehmani and Khan, 17 others, including the leaders’ family members, were reportedly killed and several wounded as the roof of the bombed house caved in.

Meanwhile, the Taliban militia, fighting for its life around Kandahar, claimed today to have repulsed an attack north of the city after fierce fighting.

A Taliban spokesman also reported that US warplanes continued their intense pounding of mountains in the Kandahar area today and one bomb hit an ambulance overnight, killing four persons. The spokesman, quoted by Afghan Islamic Press, said new bombs were dropped on the Tora Bora cave complex in eastern Afghanistan where Osama bin Laden is believed to have a hideout, and around the nearby city of Gardez.

Laden deputy killed?

JALALABAD: Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, considered Osama bin Laden’s deputy, was injured and possibly killed in an American Air raid, a provincial military chief said here on Tuesday.

“I am not sure whether he is injured or he died,” said Mohammad Zaman, military chief of eastern Nangarhar province. There was no independent confirmation of the report.

He said Al-Zawahiri was at least wounded in the same bombing in which Bin Laden’s financial manager, Ali Mahmud, was killed on Monday. The air strike was near the sprawling Tora Bora cave complex south of here where Zaman on Tuesday said Bin Laden was holed up.

Al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian physician who founded the Egyptian Islamic Jehad, was said to be the number two man in Bin Laden’s Al-Qaida network.

Another top aide to Bin Laden, his military commander Mohammad Atef, was confirmed killed in an air strike near Kabul last month. AgenciesBack


Pak anxious as Indian diplomats reach Kabul

New Delhi, December 4
The early arrival in Kabul of Indian diplomats seeking to ensure that Afghanistan is no longer a base for Kashmiri insurgents “is a source of great anxiety to Pakistan,” a US newspaper has reported.

In a Kabul-datelined report yesterday, The New York Times noted that India has been a strong supporter of the Northern Alliance and among the earliest to arrive in the Afghan capital, the others being the Iranians, the Russians and the Turks.

That development is certain to be regarded with suspicion by Pakistan, which held enormous influence in Kabul when the Taliban were in power but has not yet dared to reopen its embassy in the capital, the paper said.

The Times noted that the Indians want to ensure that Afghanistan is no longer a base for Kashmiri insurgents, who were trained at some of Osama bin Laden’s camps and supported by Pakistan.

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is reported to have expressed interest in forging a working relationship with the Afghans’ new leaders, but the paper said the mood in Kabul is so hostile to Pakistan and the Pakistani volunteers who fought alongside the Taliban that Islamabad has not yet reopened its embassy, which closed after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the USA.

Indeed, one of the biggest fears of Indian diplomats is that they may be mistaken for Pakistanis as they travel through Kabul, it said. The Iranians, bitter foes of the Taliban, were the first to arrive, just a day after the Northern Alliance forces swept into Kabul. UNIBack

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