Kabul, 25 August 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Afghanistan's Supreme Court has ruled that Communist loyalists will not be allowed to form a political party or play any active role in the country's politics. Chief Justice Maulvi Fazal Hadi Shinwari told the Afghan Islamic Press that Communists "have destroyed Afghanistan and the Supreme Court would like to prosecute them."
The court's decision came amid the emergence of a new Communist Party a few days ago led by General Noorul Alvi.
More than 100 new small political parties have been established since the fall of the Taliban in late 2001, but there is no law regulating political parties yet.
The Afghan Communist Party was supported by the Soviet Union, which invaded the country in 1978. In the 14 years of fighting that ensued more than 1.5 million Afghans were killed and 5 million fled their homes.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan's presidential spokesman announced today that U.S. and Afghan forces -- in a hunt of antigovernment insurgents -- have arrested more than 80 people in a southeastern province of Paktika.
A spokesman for the governor of the neighboring Zabul Province told Reuters that up to 50 Taliban fighters were killed today in a joint operation by U.S. and Afghan forces. About 100 provincial army soldiers and police were patrolling Dai Chupan district, where at least five government soldiers were killed in a Taliban ambush on Saturday.
U.S. Colonel Rodney Davis said at the U.S. Bagram Air Base headquarters north of Kabul that violence increased across southeast Afghanistan in the areas bordering Pakistan.
Also today, Afghan officials announced today that the country will abandon its policy of paying farmers to stop growing opium.
Yesterday, Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai and the head of U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, spoke about the problem during a meeting.
Karzai's spokesman said paying some farmers not to grow opium encouraged farmers elsewhere to grow it in order also to be paid.
In a statement, the U.N. antidrug agency said Karzai had reiterated during the meeting his government's commitment to enforce strict drug control measures.
Costa, who is on a one-week visit to Afghanistan, said the country should be given more international help to deal with the problem.
Meanwhile, New Zealand sent nearly 100 troops today to Afghanistan, where they will staff a provincial reconstruction team in Bamian province, about 200 kilometers northwest of the capital Kabul.