Rabbani Says Pakistan ‘Interfering’ in Afghanistan's Internal Affairs
Deposed Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani on Sunday accused Pakistan of "interfering" in Afghanistan's internal affairs amid signs a US-led anti-terrorism coalition may try to replace the ruling Taliban militia.
"Unfortunately, Pakistan has still not learned anything from its history of interfering in this country. Regional countries and Afghanistan's neighbors must allow the Afghan people to determine their fate on their own," Rabbani said in an interview with Iranian state radio.
Pakistan helped the Taliban to power in Kabul in 1996 but has distanced itself from its former proteges since last month's terror attacks on the United States. It remains the only country to offer them diplomatic ties.
In talks this week in Islamabad with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said he agreed that a new Afghan government would have to be "broad-based" and include every main ethnic group.
The Taliban are bracing for punitive US military strikes in the wake of the terror attacks since they have been accused harboring the main suspect, Islamic extremist Osama Bin Laden.
Rabbani also again spoke out against suggestions the Taliban be replaced with a government led by former Afghan monarch Mohammed Zahir Shah, 86, who has been in exile in Rome since 1973.
"Afghanistan's problem is not a particular person or group. The determination of the fate of the Afghan people is up to the people of this country," Rabbani said.
"The Afghan people are confident in holding a Loya Jirga [session] and are ready for it. Anybody, who is chosen by the people will be accepted by us and the international community," he said.
Together with the anti-Taliban opposition, Zahir Shah recently agreed to form a "Supreme Council for the National Unity of Afghanistan" which would convene an emergency session of the Loya Jirga, an assembly of traditional chiefs, to elect the head of state and members of a transitional administration.
Rabbani invited all Afghan officials to join the council, saying "Afghanistan belongs to all those who represent the people. The council's sole aim is peace which the Afghan people strive for."
Rabbani even went as far as inviting Taliban leaders to join the Northern Alliance, but warned that those who have "dirtied their hands with the blood of others" would find no place in it.
"Taliban heads can join the Northern Alliance. Those Taliban officials who are foreigners and mercenaries and who have dirtied their hands with the blood of others, do not have a place in this council."
"The Afghan people have never had and do not have, under any circumstances, tolerance for terrorists," he said.
Rabbani was deposed by the Taliban in 1996 and remains Afghanistan's UN-recognized president, but lives in northern Afghanistan among the opposition Northern Alliance -- TEHRAN (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)