Pakistan's Leadership Establishing Contacts With Ex-Afghan King

The leadership of Pakistan and Afghanistan's former king Mohammed Zahir Shah are establishing contacts to work out the future political system of Afghanistan after the Taliban's defeat. During the weekend, the exiled king, now living in Rome, sent a delegation to Islamabad for negotiations with President Pervez Musharraf, while the leader of the Assembly for Peace and National Unity, recently established in the Pakistani town of Peshawar, Sayed Ahmad Gilani, went to the Italian capital for consultations with Zahir Shah, who turned 87 on Monday. The assembly has united 16 organizations supporting the return of Zahir Shah who ruled Afghanistan from 1933 to 1973, and the holding of the Loya Jirga (an assembly of people's delegates) in the country. Observers say the assembly enjoys full support of Islamabad which sees it as a possible core of Afghanistan's future government, without broad participation of the Northern Alliance though. According to reports coming here, the Northern Alliance is discontented with the rapprochement between the ex-king and Islamabad. Pakistan believes, however, that the Northern Alliance must not take avail of the current favourable situation and get an advantage in forming the government, because Afghanistan's population is 60 percent Pashto, while the Northern Alliance is supported mainly by ethnic Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras.

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