Afghan Opposition Seek OIC Seat
Afghanistan's anti-Taliban opposition on Wednesday asked the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) to let them back into the group ahead of a major leadership summit.
Opposition spokesman Abdullah (eds: one name) also called upon the OIC to take a more active role to end the civil war tearing Afghanistan apart.
He said Afghanistan's OIC seat was left vacant two months after the ruling Taliban militia drove the government of ex-president Burhanuddin Rabbani from Kabul in September 1996.
"We want our country's seat to be reinstated to the legitimate government of Afghanistan," he told AFP.
"It should be given back as we hold Afghanistan's United Nations seat as well as its political missions overseas."
The opposition groups headed by Rabbani and his military strongman, Ahmad Shah Masood, are internationally recognized as Afghanistan's representatives although they control only around 10 percent of its territory.
Abdullah said interference from neighboring Pakistan and "certain countries" -- a reference to Saudi Arabia -- robbed Rabbani of the OIC seat in the months after the Taliban's capture of Kabul.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, two of the OIC's key members, along with the United Arab Emirates are the only three countries that have recognized the Taliban regime, renowned for its ultra-orthodox version of Islam.
The OIC has pursued peace initiatives to end the Afghan conflict since the Soviet withdrawal in 1989 but Abdullah said more needed to be done to resolve such a "burning issue for the Islamic world."
It sent envoys to Afghanistan in the early 1990s to make peace between Burhanuddin and his ex-premier Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who helped raze Kabul in bitter infighting after anti-Soviet resistance groups took over the city.
The organization also initiated the latest round of indirect peace talks between the two sides in the Saudi city of Jeddah earlier this year, which failed to produce a breakthrough or stop yet another summer of fighting.
Leaders from the 53-member OIC meet in Qatar for three days from Sunday -- KABUL (AFP)
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