Musharaf fears ethnic cleansings in Kabul

After the seizure of Kabul by the Northern Alliance, the majority of Taliban soldiers left their posts on the border with Pakistan, according to the Dawn newspaper citing Pakistani border guards. At the same time, according to the Taliban’s counterintelligence chief in the Torham area, everything is calm in the Nangarhar province so far, and Jelalabad remains under the Taliban’s control with Abdul Kadyr as the governor. In his words, Taliban Defence Minister Ubaidulla Aahund and other Taliban leaders have left for Logar province, and some of them left for the Taliban’s headquarters in Kandagar, where the movement’s spiritual leader Mullah Omar allegedly stays. In the meantime, Pakistani President Pervez Musharaf, having departed from New York, made a stopover in Istanbul, where he held a news conference discussing the resent developments in Afghanistan, including the capture of Kabul by the Northern Alliance. At the news conference, Gen. Musharaf demanded a “demilitarized zone” status for Kabul and proposed to deploy a peacekeeping contingent under the UN aegis recruited from the Organization of Islamic Conference member countries, according to the RIAN Novosti news agency. President Musharaf also suggested that Pakistani and Turkish servicemen take part in the mission.

Defending his stance, President Musharaf cited the sad experience of the past. The point is that Kabul already was under control by the Northern Alliance from 1992 to 1996, after the Soviet troops’ withdrawal. President Musharaf asserted that the Northern Alliance’s rule led to ethnic cleansings, mass killings of civilians, looting, and rapes.

President Musharaf went on to say that the peacekeeping forces should maintain law and order until a “multi-ethnic government with broad representation” is created. The Pakistani leader stressed the necessity of a proportional participation in Afghanistan’s future political structure of Pashtoon people, who make up about 60% of Afghanistan’s population.

At present, Islamabad is facing another serious problem that is capable of destabilizing the situation in the region: the retreating Taliban may move into the Pakistani territory, into so called “Pashtoon residence belt” stretching along Pakistan’s entire northern border. Tribes living there are closely related to the Pashtoon and are ready to accept their neighbours, while Islamabad’s authority is limited. Having entrenched in Pakistan, the Taliban may launch a guerrilla war. Given such a threat, Pakistan considers deploying its regular military contingents on the border, which, in turn, is sure to cause a negative reaction both from the Pakistani Pashtoons and the local religious parties opposing the policy conducted by Gen. Musharaf, who has agreed to US backing in its anti-terror campaign.

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