Afghanistan: Taliban council of ministers dispatches delegations to provinces
IAP20010923000082 Kabul Radio Voice of Shari'ah in Dari 1530 GMT 23 Sep 01
An extraordinary session of the Council of Ministers was held today chaired by Mola Mohammad Hasan Akhond, deputy head in charge of administration of the Council of Ministers. The session was attended by all ministers and deputy ministers representing various ministries.
Quoting the press office of the Council of Ministers, Bakhtar Information Agency reports: At the beginning of the session, comprehensive discussions were held on the country's defence and security issues. The session also studied the issues related to organizing the affairs of Mojahedin in the capital and provinces as well as a number of other political issues. It also evaluated various dimensions of threats against the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and against the country's independence and territorial integrity. The session adopted the necessary decisions on various issues.
The session also discussed the issue of supplying primary needed goods throughout the country, especially in Kabul City. The session gave specific instructions to relevant officials.
In the course of the session a commission was set up headed by Mowlawi Khalilollah Pirowzi, head of the Academy of Science. The commission includes esteemed Mowlawi Arsalan Rahmani, deputy minister for Hajj and Endowment; esteemed Faridoddin Mahmud, deputy head of the Academy of Science; esteemed Mola Ramatollah Wahedyar, deputy minister in charge of martyred and refugees; esteemed Mohammad Naim Kochi, esteemed Mowlawi Taleb Jan, esteemed Mowlawi Abdol Ghafur and esteemed Mowlawi Hamidollah Wayez. The delegation has been commissioned to travel to the south zone and carry out tasks jointly with another delegation headed by esteemed Mowlawi Jalaloddin Haqqani, minister of border affairs and tribes, who is already in the south zone.
The session also assigned another commission headed by esteemed Mowlawi Zahirorrahman Haqqani, deputy minister for border affairs and tribes. The commission includes esteemed Mowlawi Seyd Asmatollah Asem, deputy minister for public health; esteemed Ezatollah Haqqani, deputy minister for planning; esteemed Mowlawi Najibollah Haqqani, deputy in charge of administrative affairs, and esteemed Mowlawi Mohammad Rostam Hanafi, deputy minister for public works. The commission has been given the task of travelling to eastern zone. The session also appointed another commission headed by esteemed Mowlawi Karamatollah Forqanyar, deputy minister for Hajj and Endowment. The commission includes esteemed Mohammad Musa Hotak, deputy minister for planning; esteemed Mowlawi Seyd Ahmad Shahidkhel, deputy minister for education; esteemed commander Khayal Mohammad Hoseyni and representatives of Shi'i including esteemed Ayatollah Taqatodosi, esteemed Seyd Mohammad Nawab Haydari and esteemed Sajjadi. The commission has been given the task of visiting the provinces of Maydan, Ghazni and Wardak.
The session has commissioned the delegations to talk about the threats against the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and related issues to religious scholars, elders and leaders of tribes, the officials of the Islamic Emirate and the people of the above mentioned zones in order to organize the affairs of Mojahedin and mobilize people to defend the lofty objectives of the Islamic Emirate, which guarantee the welfare and prosperity of our country's Muslim people. The delegations have been asked to highlight Islamic and national duties and responsibilities of all people and to make every efforts in order to enlighten the people's opinion regarding the existing problems.
[Description of Source: Kabul Radio Voice of Shari'ah in Dari/Pashto -- pro-Taleban station broadcasting from Kabul]
AFP: Taliban angrily rejects speculation that regime may crumble
SAP20010928000001 Hong Kong AFP in English 0153 GMT 28 Sep 01
ISLAMABAD, Sept 28 (AFP) - Afghanistan's Taliban regime has angrily rejected speculation that it may crumble from within before a shot is fired in the US war against terrorism, saying its support among the fiercely independent Afghan people has never been stronger.
In eastern Khost province, where US cruise missiles targeted alleged terrorist camps in 1998, Taliban Governor Mullah Abdul Raoof Arif said the Islamic militia was still firmly in control despite international efforts to promote a more broad-based system of government in the war-ravaged country.
"We are not going to flee. We will have our graves here and the Taliban's Islamic system will remain," he told the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press.
"People of Khost are themselves ready to fight in case of a US attack, and even people from the Wazir tribe living on the border with Pakistan have offered to fight alongside the Taliban.
Analysts have been keenly watching for signs of cracks in the secretive Islamic militia amid intense international pressure to hand over Saudi-dissident Osama bin Laden, accused of masterminding the September 11 suicide hijackings in the United States.
The regime, headed by a reclusive group of Islamic clerics, is used to its international pariah status and revels in its bitter opposition to all things "Western".
But there have been growing international efforts to support the armed opposition groups, and organise a new, broad-based government for Afghanistan, focusing on the popular figure of exiled former kind Zahir Shah.
Arif denied reports that local tribes in Khost had announced support for Shah.
"There is no such issue, local tribes and local ulema (Islamic scholars) have set up a 34-member commission which is waiting to follow any order from the Taliban," he said.
The deputy chief of the Taliban secret service, Mullah Abdul Haq Wasiq, claimed the Afghan people had rallied behind the ruling militia, provoked by proud memories of the Afghans' defeats of British and Soviet invaders.
"A big number of opposition commanders have been in contact with us and have expressed their desire to join and fully cooperate with the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) and the Islamic army," he said in a statement read over the official Bakhtar news agency.
After more than two decades of war and social disintegration, Afghan warlords are notorious for switching sides and selling their loyalties to the highest bidder, fuelling speculation that Taliban commanders may start defecting to the opposition under the threat of US attack.
Sources along the border near the northwestern Pakistani city of Pehawar said several pro-Taliban commanders in Paktia, Nangahar, Laghman, Kunar and Khost were wavering in their backing of the fundamentalist militia.
One source, a Pakistan-based Afghan businessman in regular contact with three commanders in Kunar and Nangahar, said the Taliban was losing its grip in several districts as it shifted its forces to defend more strategic sites.
"The commanders are unhappy with the way things are going. Some commanders in Kunar, for example, are no longer making money from the timber trade now the borders are shut," said one source, a member of a now-neutral mujahedin (Islamic fighter) group.
He said their were mutterings of discontent in Dari Suf in Laghman province, the Pech valley and northern Asadabad in Kunar and areas around Jalalabad in Nangahar.
An independent source added that Taliban Minister for Tribes Jalaluddin Haqqani -- a powerful figure in the province of Khost -- had also distanced himself from the militia, although reports that he had quit Taliban ranks could not be confirmed.
"The Taliban position in major towns is safe for the moment, but they don't have any real presence in some of the outlying areas. They have abandoned a lot of posts, and local commanders are close to abandoning them," another Afghan source said.
"They have a feeling of wait and see. They do not want to be targets (of the US)."
The United Nations says it has received reports of the Taliban forcibly enlisting young men in the western city of Herat and other reports have indicated that the militia is sending reinforcements to the north of the country to counter an offensive by opposition forces.
But the reports and further details of the shifting allegiances have been sketchy and difficult to verify, with the border with Pakistan closed and just a trickle of travellers making it across the border.
[Description of Source: Description of Source: Hong Kong AFP in English -- Hong Kong service of the independent French press agency Agence France-Presse]
Taliban adopts strategy to resist US move to replace present setup in Kabul
SAP20011005000004 Islamabad The News (Internet Version-WWW) in English 05 Oct 01
[Report by Kamran Khan: "Six-pronged Taliban strategy to meet US plan" ]
KARACHI: Mullah Omar-led Taliban militia and their supporters in Pakistan are working on a six-pronged strategy based on Pashtun nationalism and religious sentiments to build mass resistance against a United States-sponsored drive to replace the present Taliban set-up in Afghanistan with an internationally recognised moderate broad-based government.
Afghanistan watchers, both in and outside the government of Pakistan, have conceded that so far the results of the Taliban's efforts to mobilise Pashtun support on both sides of the Durand Line have been positive, meaning that an international push from Rome for a new pliable government in Kabul would most definitely meet stiff armed resistance from a major chunk of Afghan populace.
Identifying the six elements of Taliban strategy to gather maximum Pashtun support, official and independent Afghanistan analysts in their interviews with this correspondent said Mullah Omar and his aides are presently concentrating on: (1) Bringing the former Pashtun mujahideen commanders to their fold (2) Influencing the powerful Pashtun tribal leaders inside Afghanistan with offers for cushy government positions (3) Use of sentimental issues to create dissension amongst Afghani Pashtuns who are prepared to help anti-Taliban forces (4) To use Pashtun-dominated Pakistani tribal belt as a strategic reservoir (5) To use Islamic sentiments in the hard-line Pakistani religious cadre to gain military strength in the impending military confrontation (6) To gain favourable response from the Pashtun composition of Pakistani border forces.
There is a general feeling amongst Afghanistan analysts that the Taliban leadership is now reacting to Pakistan's decision to extend an unstinting support to the international campaign against terrorism by devising a strategy that may put Islamabad under tremendous internal pressure.
Reports reaching Peshawar and Quetta from Jalalabad and Kandahar have spoken of considerable response from the former Pashtun mujahideen commanders such as Gulbadin Hekmatyar, Maulvi Yunis Khalis and Maulvi Nabi Mohammadi who are believed to have communicated to Mullah Omar their support in any military confrontation against the external forces, Zahir Shah and northern alliance.
"America is doing exactly what the former Soviet Union did in Afghanistan, it wants to repeat the most dreadful blunder that the Soviets had committed by implanting its own Babrak Karmal in shape of King Zahir Shah," said Gulbadin Hekmatyar in an interview published Thursday.
Some Pakistani sources who recently had the opportunity to have dialogue with Taliban leaders in Kandahar said that diplomatic developments in Rome suggesting that the former King Zahir Shah will emerge as the figurehead in the post-Taliban Afghanistan has fuelled a sense of brotherhood in the former mujahideen community that had despised the former king's indifferent posture in the Afghan jihad against the former Soviet Union.
Former mujahideen Pashtun community is also perturbed that international forces want to force a change in Afghanistan by establishing an alliance between a secular-minded Zahir Shah and non-Pashtun Northern Alliance. "Taliban are playing heavily on Pashtun nationalism with a cry that outside forces are trying again to implant an anti-Islamic force on Afghanistan," said a senior official who deals with Afghanistan.
Because of Zahir Shah factor and the Russian decision to appoint Gen. Mohammad Fahim Khan, the former head of Khad, the infamous Afghan intelligence service of communist era, as the head of Northern Alliance's military command, highly informed Afghan sources said, the Northern Alliance has lost the support of Prof Abdur Rauf Sayyaf and thousands of his followers..
"No religious Pashtun Afghan can digest Gen. Fahim, Zahir Shah and President Bush, all in one go," opined a former ISI [Inter Service Intelligence] official who had dealt extensively with the Afghans during their war against the former Soviet Union. "These names are enough for Hekmatyar, Mohammadi, Khalis and Sayyaf to join hands and stand up."
Sayyaf, a famous mujahideen commander, represented a crucial Pashtun support for the Northern Alliance and his much expected outright support for Taliban will add a new vigour to Mullah Omar's vows to confront an external solution of the Afghan crisis.
The former Pashtun mujahideen community headed by Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani, one of the most famous commander of Hizbe Islami (Yunis Khalis) is currently spearheading Taliban drive to allure influential Pashtun tribal heads to important government positions in various provinces. Pashtun tribal leaders of Afghan origin have been lobbied by Taliban that their indifferent posture would lead to an establishment of a non-Pashtun secular government over Afghanistan and by facilitating so the tribal leaders were inviting the wrath of God.
Independent Afghan sources, however, said that history showed that tribal leaders in Afghanistan had traditionally supported the wealthy patrons and in rare circumstances only they had resisted the temptation of monetary gains. It will be interesting to see if the tribesmen would support their leaders in their decisions.
Afghanistan watchers say that a crucial task facing Taliban is to limit the popular Pashtun support that important anti-Taliban Pashtun commanders such as Abdul Haq, who abandoned his luxurious lifestyle in Dubai last week, are mustering to form an anti-Taliban Pashtun alliance in Peshawar.
Abdul Haq, who was known as one of the most successful mujahideen commanders against the Soviet forces, returned to Peshawar from Dubai via Rome where he met with King Zahir Shah. Anti-Taliban forces are hopeful that Abdul Haq would be able to muster enough support of Pashtun tribal leaders in Nangarhar and other strategically important provinces to stage a military uprising against Mullah Omar and his followers.
Afghan sources said Taliban worried about Haq's potential were trying to curtail his influence by using his brother Din Mohammad to convey to Pashtun tribal leaders that Haq had secretly joined hands with Russians through Gen. Fahim of Northern Alliance.
To reinforce their internal strength the Taliban are banking heavily on the outside Pashtun support, particularly from tribes settled on key strategic points along the Pak-Afghan borders. Officials and other independent sources have confirmed that Taliban have intensified their contacts with important tribal leaders on the Pakistani side of the semi-controlled borders since the crisis broke out in the US.
"We have to recognise that Pakistani tribal belt will provide a strategic depth to Taliban. They will get continuous support from an area which will be beyond the enemy's reach," noted a Pakistani official now serving as a political agent in the tribal belt of NWFP [North-West Frontier Province].
Thousands of Afridi tribesmen took to the streets in the most religious and populous Khyber Agency Monday to shout "Osama is our hero" and "death to America". The armed tribesmen vowed to battle against the US forces in Afghanistan.
Such rallies, though rare in large Pakistani cities, are almost daily routine in the tribal areas of NWFP, where tribesmen are enlisting themselves for jihad. "Thousands of people have been enlisted for jihad by various tribal maliks, but, we don't know how many of them would actually go to participate in any battle," said a political agent in the NWFP.
Pakistani sources have said in recent days the tribesmen have also sent hundreds of small and medium sized weapons, particularly useful in guerrilla warfare, to the fellow tribesmen on the Afghan side of the border. A key plank of Taliban strategy is to capitalise on extremist religious sentiments in jihadi groups and seminaries in Pakistan, who are already sending their men and material to Taliban leadership in Kandahar.
"We are proud that the first martyrs of this new war to save the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan are from our organisation," claimed a Jaish-e-Mohammad activist who identified himself as Abu Ammarah. "The eleven people who gave their lives along with their Taliban brothers were from different towns in Punjab and Sindh provinces." Abu Ammarah also released the names of Jaish-e-Mohammad members who died in battle with Northern Alliance early last week
"We never bring bodies back to Pakistan. Our martyrs have been buried in Afghanistan and we have notified this to their families in Pakistan," Abu Ammarah said. Jaish-e-Mohammad sources said all of those Pakistanis who were killed near Mazar-i-Sharif last week had entered Afghanistan from the Chaman border last Friday (September 21).
Although Jaish-e-Mohammad and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen had made no official announcement, but informed activists in both organisations had recently disclosed that some of their members have been directed to move inside Afghanistan and report back to their Taliban commanders. Pakistani religious groups had played a pivotal role in Taliban's battle against its opponents in Afghanistan.
In a recent development, sources in Lashkar-e-Taiba have revealed that in recent days scores of its followers have travelled to Afghanistan to participate in a "new jihad between Islamists and infidels".
Lashkar-e-Taiba's weekly news magazine Zarb-e-Momin was first to print the picture if the downed US spy plane, presented to its reporter by Taliban in Kandahar last week.
Breaking his silence over the government's stance on terrorist attacks in the US, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the head of Lashkar-e-Taiba said in a statement Sunday: "By permitting America to use our airspace and land, Pakistan would lose its sovereignty and honour. The nation should unite at this juncture and stop the rulers from taking such a suicidal decision."
On Wednesday Maulana Sufi Mohammad of Tehrike Nifaze Shariat Mohammadi (TNSM), a group dedicated to turn Pakistan into a Taliban style state, announced that he had enlisted 5,000 TNSM followers who would soon go to defend Afghanistan against infidels.
Pakistani officials have been trying in vain to limit men and material support from Pakistani organisations to Taliban. "It is wrong to declare the Taliban's battle against Northern Alliance a jihad," observed Interior Minister Lt. Gen. (retd) Moinuddin Haider last week. "When the two groups of Muslims are fighting, you may call it anything but jihad," he said.
Last week federal authorities in Islamabad ordered banks to freeze the accounts used by the Al-Rashid Trust and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, the two Pakistani groups mentioned in a list of 26 organisations cited by President Bush for being directly or indirectly involved in acts of terrorism.
On Friday last, Pakistani authorities took their drive against these two groups a step further by ordering Harkat-ul-Mujahideen to shut down its offices located on the Pakistani side of Kashmir.
Informed sources said that because of a peculiar composition of border security forces deployed on 1400 miles long Pak-Afghan borders, Taliban leaders are not expecting a hostile treatment on borders in their efforts to ship resources to and from Pakistan, particularly the tribal areas.
These sources said at personal level tribesmen based on the Afghan side of the border are known to have ties with the elements in the border forces, who in some cases belong to the same tribe.
[Description of Source: Islamabad The News in English -- Independent daily, member of the Jang Publishing Group]
Rift Reported in Taliban, Finance Minister, 'Prominent Commander' Said Back US
SAP20011010000149 Islamabad Pakistan in Urdu 10 Oct 01 pp 17
[Report by Javed Iqbal Qureshi: "Wedge in Taliban set-up, US musters support of Finance Minister, army head"]
Islamabad -- Creating rift within the Taliban, the US authorities have won over the support of their finance minister (in fact Deputy Chief of the Taliban Council of Minister in-charge of Economic Affairs), Maulvi Abdul Kabeer and his close associate and prominent commander, Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani. These two figures will be included in the broad-based government to be installed in Kabul after the collapse of the Taliban. According to knowledgeable sources, Maulvi Kabeer, who also serves as the Governor of the eastern Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan was appointed as head of the Eastern Zone, comprising the provinces of Nangarhar, Kunar and Laghman by Mullah Omar. The powerful sub-group of Maulvi Kabeer includes the Deputy Interior Minister, Maulvi Noor Jamal, Taliban's Chief of Army Staff, based in the eastern provinces, Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani and dozens of local tribal chieftains and commanders. This clique is being considered as the richest among the Taliban. The group's sphere of control includes the poppy-rich areas of eastern Afghanistan and their involvement in international heroin trade is also being alleged. The sources said that the United States has revived its previous ties to this group, which is also involved in the smuggling of antiques. The sources say that with the proclaimed support from this group for the US, the Taliban's control over areas from Torkham (Pakistan border) to Kabul will end without a single bullet being fired.
The sources said that US authorities have termed as the virtual conservative clique, the Taliban sub-group led by Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, the deputy of Mullah Omar and former Foreign Minister (Deputy Head of the Council of Ministers in-charge of Administrative Affairs, who after the death of Taliban Prime Minister Mulla Rabbani last year, virtually heads the Taliban cabinet).
The US authorities, the sources add, have also chalked out a strategy to use the Taliban Defense Minister, Mulla Ubaidullah to their benefit. Maulvi Ubaidullah enjoys the support of all the Taliban field commanders. But as he has strong tribal animosity with Mulla Hassan Akhund, their differences are being fanned to create a wedge in the Taliban organism.
Besides, the US officials have also evolved a mechanism to use the services of former Taliban Foreign Minister Mulla Ghous and the sitting Interior Minister, Mulla Abdul Razzaq in materializing their game plan. Mulla Ghous was captured by the forces of General Abdul Malik during the Taliban massacre in Mazar-e-Sharif (1997). Later, he mysteriously escaped detention but the Taliban leader removed him from his post, considering him as an unreliable person.
Sources said US officials have also obtained information from Pakistani authorities on the four closest aides of Mullah Omar, with whose support the Taliban supremo has ruled over Afghanistan for the last five years. These highly educated and multi-langual Taliban leaders are shy like Mullah Omar himself and prefer to remain in the background.
[Description of Source: Islamabad Pakistan in Urdu -- Widely read daily generally supportive of the Pakistan Muslim League]
Pakistani politicians, religious leaders condemn US attacks on Afghanistan
SAP20011009000051 Islamabad The News (Internet Version-WWW) in English 09 Oct 01
[Repot by correspondent: "Attacks termed aggression against Afghans"]
Peshawar -- People from different walks of life throughout the NWFP [North-West Frontier Province] Monday expressed deep resentment over the US and its allies' air attacks on Afghanistan and termed it as direct aggression on the poor Muslim country.
Chief of National Awami Party Pakistan (NAPP) Ajmal Khattak said the attacks would further devastate Afghanistan and asked for immediate halt to it. He said for restoration of lasting peace in the region a solution must be found according to the traditions and values of Afghan culture. Ajmal feared spell over of the war to the neighbouring countries and said that in order to resolve the issue a representative Jirga should be convened.