Sunday, December 9, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Karzai promises ‘justice’ for Omar

Kabul, December 8
Afghanistan’s interim Prime Minister Hamid Karzai today called on the Afghan people as well as his troops to capture prime terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden and Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and deliver them to “international justice.”

Karzai said he was asking villagers to look for both men as well thousands of Arabs and other foreign fighters in Bin Laden’s Al-Qaida network.

“We will deliver Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar to international justice,” Karzai said.

He did not elaborate. However, his pledge comes after Washington raised strong objections to suggestions that Karzai might have struck a surrender deal with Omar to allow the fugitive Taliban chief to remain in Afghanistan.

Karzai said the whereabouts of both Bin Laden and Omar remain unknown. He indicated that he thought they were still in his homeland, despite heavy US bombing at Al-Qaida’s eastern Tora Bora mountain hide-out.

Karzai rejected speculation that Omar was in the hands of rival tribal forces in Kandahar.

“Neither Omar nor Bin Laden are in the custody of anti-Taliban forces,” he said.

Karzai said his UN and US-backed temporary administration, that is to take office in the capital Kabul on December 22, wanted to end Afghanistan’s links with terrorism.

“We will make sure we will get rid of terrorism. We want to finish terrorism in Afghanistan and in the world,” he said.

A major part of this would be the capture of all foreign Al-Qaida troops as well as Saudi-born Bin Laden.

“I have asked the people now, not just our forces, to arrest any Arabs they find,” he said. APBack


No consensus on control of Kandahar

Kabul, December 8
Kandahar was a tinderbox of tribal tension today as squabbling clansmen trying to carve personal fiefdoms out of its ruins failed to agree on who should govern the southern Afghan city, sources said.

Meetings of Pashtun tribal leaders were under way to end the chaos that has gripped the city since the Taliban’s withdrawal yesterday but no consensus was in sight, the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reported.

Quoting local residents, the Pakistan-based AIP said most of the city was in the control of Mullah Naqibullah, the former Kandahar corps commander who surrendered to the Taliban in 1994.

But the spokesmen for Pashtun tribal chief and former provincial Governor Gul Agha said their leader had taken control of the Governor House and had surrounded Naqibullah’s men in a military compound.

Agha’s spokesman Jalal Khan told AFP by telephone from the Governor’s mansion that Naqibullah had been given an ultimatum to give up or face the consequences. AFPBack


Pak rejects charges of interference 

Islamabad, December 8
Pakistan today rejected Afghan Interior Minister Younous Qanooni’s allegations that it interfered in the affairs of Kabul and denied reports that it had sent a huge consignment of weapons to the Taliban at the height of the US war in Afghanistan.

Reacting to Mr Qanooni’s comments in New Delhi yesterday that Pakistan’s policy of interference in Afghanistan had failed, Foreign Office spokesman Aziz Ahmad Khan told reporters today that it gave unstinted support to Afghanistan during the past two decades.

“We have not seen the text of his remarks. We categorically reject any such allegation. Pakistan in the past has made tremendous sacrifices to Afghanistan and offered tremendous assistance. It became a front line state to fight against the Soviet invasion. Pakistan is a home for majority of Afghan leaders in exile,” he said

Mr Khan said Pakistan maintained contacts with both sides of the divide. “Pakistan’s record in helping Afghanistan is obvious,” he said

He said that Pakistan hoped that a new era of peace would be established in Afghanistan as a result of the Bonn agreement. “We also hope that Pakistan will have friendly ties with all neighbours,” he added.

Defence spokesman, Major-Gen Rashid Qureshi, who was also present at the briefing, denied a New York Times story which quoted some ISI officials as saying that Pakistan had sent arms shipments to the Taliban regime as recently as October 8.

“These reports are absolutely false and incorrect. I cannot imagine our intelligence officials who made these remarks,” he said.

Terming the report as a “malicious propaganda”, Major-Gen Qureshi said the suspicion of the foreign media was so much that some foreign journalists even tried to inspect the lorries that took humanitarian supplies to Afghanistan.

“I can name the foreign journalists who inspected the trucks. They have done it at random,” he said adding that the Taliban and Northern Alliance had acquired so many weapons during the Soviet occupation that they could export them to other countries.

Mr Khan also denied knowledge of reports that the Northern Alliance had handed over 156 captured Pakistanis to India for interrogation. “We have no knowledge of these reports,” he said. PTIBack

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