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November 14, 2001
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Northern Alliance preparing for second phase of war: Afghan envoy

Rezaul H Laskar in New Delhi

Northern Alliance forces are preparing for the 'second phase' of the war against terrorism in Afghanistan following their triumphant entry into capital Kabul, the Afghan envoy to India said Wednesday.

Masood Khalili, the ambassador of the government headed by President Burhanuddin Rabbani, said the Northern Alliance would now begin work on forming a 'fully representative, democratically based government' that would meet the aspirations of all ethnic groups.

"The war is not over. We are now in the second and important phase of the war against terrorism. We expect it will be equally difficult (as the first phase)," Khalili, who survived the bomb attack that killed famed Northern Alliance commander Ahmed Shah Masood on September 9, said.

"Afghanistan is the goal, not Kabul," he said.

The envoy ruled out a role for the Taleban in any future government.

"The moderate Taleban doesn't exist. The Taleban will be excluded in any way from any government."

Northern Alliance fighters were preparing for the possibility of increased guerrilla attacks by Taleban forces 'reinforced by Pakistani and Arab extremists', he said.

"We have captured Pakistani extremists in the hundreds in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif," he said, adding many more Pakistani mujahideen were believed to be operating with the Taleban in southern Afghanistan.

He did not envisage any immediate southward thrust by the Northern Alliance.

Khalili added the opposition fighters would instead extend support to 'those who are against the Taleban'.

Khalili said India was expected to play a 'positive role' as one of the largest democracies in the region both in government formation in Kabul and the reconstruction of his war-ravaged country.

"By recognising the Rabbani government for the past six years, India has shown that it wants stability, self-determination and sovereignty in Afghanistan."

India has formed an informal alliance with Tajikistan and Russia to support the Northern Alliance. It also operates a hospital to treat the opposition fighters in Tajikistan.

Khalili said the Northern Alliance leadership was looking forward to the visit to Afghanistan by Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN secretary general's special envoy, to give impetus to government formation and reconstruction efforts.

Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister, on Wednesday unveiled a proposal for the creation of a two-year transitional government and a security force drawn from several nations. He said he would also call a meeting of all Afghan factions in the near future.

"We want other Afghan processes that are already active to join the UN efforts. We are also working on a mechanism for a fully representative government," he said.

Indicating that a Loya Jirga, or assembly of tribal elders, would be convened soon, Khalili said: "We will let the Loya Jirga choose and bring (a government)."

This, he emphasised, would pave the way for a situation whereby 'all ethnic groups from different parts of Afghanistan' could play a role in government formation.

The alliance is dominated by minority Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazars, while Pushtoons, the ethnic tribe that constitutes 40 percent of Afghanistan's 16 million population, dominates the Taleban.

Meanwhile, UN spokesperson Stephanie Bunker said over 100 Taleban fighters were killed in Mazar-e-Sharif

The victims were hiding in a school and were relatively young recruits, she said.

The offices of the UN and some NGOs in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif had been looted since the two cities were taken over by the Northern Alliance, she said, adding it was difficult to identify who was responsible for the thefts.

The situation is changing rapidly and the residents of the two cities are taking steps to protect their lives and properties, she added.

UNICEF spokesperson Chulho Hyun said Northern Alliance forces had captured eight trucks of the organisation that were being driven by Pashtun drivers. The drivers are safe and attempts are being made to get the trucks back, he said.

Indo-Asian News Service

America's War on Terror: The Complete Coverage
The Attack on US Cities: The Complete Coverage

The Terrorism Weblog: Latest Stories from Around the World

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