Accessibility links

Afghan Report: December 5, 2002

5 December 2002, Volume 1, Number 2
By T. Goudsouzian

There is a running joke in Kabul. Three men are at sea: An Afghan, a Russian, and a UN worker. The Russian tosses a bottle of vodka overboard. "We have more of these at home," he says. The UN worker follows suit by tossing his satellite phone overboard. "We have more of these at home," he explains. Finally, the Afghan kicks the UN worker overboard. "We have way too many of these at home...."

A year after the international community devoted considerable effort and resources to root out terrorism in Afghanistan, little has been achieved in the way of reconstruction. The Americans may have spent more than $500 million in providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan, but nearly $15 billion went to finance the war in that same period.

The presence of foreign aid workers and UN officials, driving around town in sparkling white four-by-fours and living in barricaded compounds, has turned into, well, a joke.

The international donors conference held in Tokyo in December 2001 had set up a five-year reconstruction plan for Afghanistan with a budget of $4.7 billion pledged by various countries. According to UN sources, almost $2 billion from these Tokyo pledges have been mobilized for Afghanistan. This means the sum has either been disbursed, or is in the pipeline.

There are no statistics about the portion of the funds diverted to income-generating projects. As such, critics have charged that the fraction of the Tokyo pledges that have reached Afghanistan have gone back into the pockets of donor countries, or into projects that do not meet the immediate needs of the war-ravaged nation. "Costly feasibility reports and astronomical salaries for foreign consultants, experts, and staff have eaten up the bulk of the funds," said one Afghan businessman in Dubai who asked not to be named. "At this rate, the country is going nowhere. In 10 years, we're going to be exactly where we are now."

According to Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Omar Samad, the government is currently floating the idea of "a post-Tokyo conference to review and chalk out new reconstruction pledges and commitments for the next decade." "Almost 10 months after the Tokyo conference, we, the Afghans and the international community, are in a better position to assess the scale of the damage and needs for the next 10 years," he told RFE/RL. "Realistically, after 24 years of warfare, the country cannot be rebuilt with $5 billion over five years. We also need to separate the pledges for reconstruction and development on one hand, and humanitarian needs on the other hand." There is no date or venue set yet, but Samad suggested a venue in Europe in the first quarter of 2003 would be "preferable."

Great Expectations

Ahmed Wali Masoud, Afghanistan's ambassador to London, doubts a post-Tokyo international donors conference will solve the problem, which he attributes to a "lack of expertise" on the part of President Hamid Karzai's government. "There is no reconstruction going on at the moment -- $4.7 billion is not enough to rebuild Afghanistan," he told RFE/RL. "At the Tokyo conference, the officials in the government were unable to properly assess the needs of the country. They were naive to think it would be possible to rebuild a country with such a paltry sum. What they did was to raise the expectations of the people. Now, a year later, the people are disappointed, disenchanted."

Masoud is the founder of Nahzat-e Milli-ye Afghanistan (National Movement of Afghanistan), a party based on the vision of his late brother, Commander Ahmed Shah Masoud, who was assassinated in September 2001. "A post-Tokyo conference would certainly be beneficial if we can first rectify the problem within the government," he said.

Masoud believes Karzai is not in full control of the situation -- key ministers are not kept in check and vast amounts of Tokyo pledges, which have been disbursed, are not accounted for. He also believes the nongovernmental organizations (NGO) have become part of the problem, not the solution. "$1.7 billion in Tokyo pledges have gone missing. No one seems to know where all that money went!" he said. "I attended a meeting in London between Defense Minister Marshall Mohammad Qasim Fahim and British parliamentarians. No one could answer the question. What happened to this money?" According to Samad, "Almost $100 million has gone to the Afghan government, mostly to pay salaries," and the rest is in the pipeline.

Masoud also criticized Anwar al-Haq Ahadi, head of Afghanistan's central bank, who seems to have been given carte blanche with the country's economy. "New afghani currency notes have been printed. But what happens to the old ones? How can they be exchanged? There are hundreds of questions that arise. Who will answer them? Who will check Ahadi?" he asked.

Conversely, during a visit to Kabul last month, World Bank Chief Economist and Senior Vice President Nicholas Stern "strongly endorsed Afghanistan's development strategy with its focus on the private sector and community empowerment." "Afghanistan's leadership is striving to build an effective and accountable state from the ruins of more than two decades of war and destruction," Stern was quoted as saying.

Critics, however, insist that the Karzai government has largely failed to extend its jurisdiction beyond Kabul and distant provinces are controlled by warlords, who are reportedly financed by foreign powers. There have been a number of assassination attempts on key officials. The country is plagued by poverty and a shortage of affordable housing, and reconstruction efforts are focused mainly in the north while the volatile south remains sorely neglected.

Room For Improvement

Samad conceded that there is "room for improvement" in the areas of reporting, procurement, overhead and operational costs, accountability, and transparency. But this is an issue that is already being addressed by the Afghan authorities, he told RFE/RL. "We have asked the UN to provide us with a report on their activities, expenditures, and overhead costs. We will soon do the same with NGOs following the adoption of a revised NGO regulatory and legal framework," he said. "Not all of the money allocated for Afghanistan has served Afghan rehabilitation purposes, but the humanitarian needs have been so great that there are few visible, labor-intensive projects that have gone online."

The goal of a post-Tokyo international conference would be to "review our achievements, shortcomings, failures, strategy, policy, and priorities," Samad said.

The immediate needs of Afghanistan as spelled out in the government's "National Development Framework" document focus on six areas of priority: basic infrastructure (power, roads, telecom), education, health care, rural development, urban development, and physical institution rehabilitation.

Samad said there are several projects under way. He cited the reconstruction of the road stretching from Kabul to Kandahar and Herat. The project is estimated to cost $250 million. The U.S. will cover $80 million; Japan and Saudi Arabia will each foot $50 million.

The Agha Khan Foundation and its associates have secured the license for setting up the country's telecoms network. The initial investment is $45 million, going up to $150 million in three years. The Agha Khan Foundation has also offered to renovate the Kabul Hotel at a cost of about $20 million.

Furthermore, Samad stressed the need to provide adequate humanitarian assistance, especially for refugee resettlement. "Work has started in all categories, but it has been slow at times because of a lack of resources," he said.

The Need Of The Hour

A second international conference entitled "Rebuilding Afghanistan: Peace and Stability" was held in Petersberg, near Bonn, Germany, on 2 December. The one-day conference was organized on the initiative of German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. Afghan President Karzai, members of his cabinet, active UN member countries, and representatives from neighboring countries took part.

Of the 360 million euros ($360 million) for four years pledged by Germany at the international donors conference in Tokyo last year, the country has already invested 80 million euros in concrete projects in 2002. The money has been directed towards renovating and equipping damaged hospitals and schools, setting up vocational training programs for women, and helping the country develop a trained police force. Berlin has also contributed an additional 46 million euros, making the total amount of German aid to Afghanistan in 2002 a whopping 126 million euros.

Critics, however, point out that such generous aid is often diverted to a clutch of diverse projects that are not necessarily the pressing need of the day. Bernt Glatzer -- chairman of the Afghan Research Group, an informal association of scholars, writers, diplomats, and aid and development workers who have worked or still work in or on Afghanistan -- remarked, "In terms of quantity, it isn't very much."

Glatzer, just back from Afghanistan, said what is missing when it comes to German aid to Afghanistan is "a concept." "The projects need to make more sense," he said. He cited the need to invest more in "providing drinking water, in the energy sector and in a market economy, to promote small businesses and to encourage vocational-training programs."

Glatzer also said that young men, rather than children, need serious attention. Money should go to programs that keep youths off the streets and into jobs, especially those aged between 16 and 26, who are susceptible to taking up arms for warlords to earn a living.

T. Goudsouzian is a journalist who covers Afghanistan.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on 2 December opened a one-day conference in Petersberg, near Bonn, that focused on reconstruction and security in Afghanistan, ddp reported the same day. Schroeder said that a year ago Afghanistan got a "chance to return to the community of peoples" and that today Afghanistan must take advantage of that opportunity to accomplish the task, adding that "we will maintain our solidarity with Afghanistan," ddp reported. However, the German chancellor emphasized that only Afghans in Afghanistan can decide the future of their country, not the UN or conferences such as the one in Petersberg, ddp added. The conference entitled "Rebuilding Afghanistan: Peace and Stability" comes a year after a conference at the same site where the current Afghan administration was agreed upon by various Afghan parties following the defeat of the Taliban regime.

A large Afghan delegation headed by President Hamid Karzai attended the conference. At the conference, the Afghan delegation circulated a decree issued by Karzai on the formation of the Afghan national army. A copy of the decree was obtained by RFE/RL, and given the importance of the formation of a national army to the overall security and reconstruction of Afghanistan, the full text of this decree is transcribed below without any changes. (Amin Tarzi)

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate and Merciful

Decree of the President of the Islamic Transitional State of Afghanistan on the Afghan National Army, issued on 1 December 2002

With the blessings of the Almighty, of the Islamic Transitional State of Afghanistan (ITSA) hereby decrees that the Afghan National Army (ANA) shall be established.

1) The ANA will be subordinate to the command of legitimate civilian authorities. The President of ITSA (or its successor government) will be commander-in-chief of the ANA.

2) The ANA will not exceed 70,000 soldiers, officers and non-commissioned officers, to include all air and ground forces, air defense forces, civilian employees of the Ministry of Defense (MoD), student cadets of post-secondary institutions, and other specialized units.

3) The current organization of the army will gradually be transformed into four major commands. With the exception of the central command in Kabul, the location of the remaining commands will be determined on the basis of strategic and geographical factors. The ITSA is committed to promote the earliest restoration of security, the rule of law and full exercise of human rights throughout the country.

4) The organization and staffing of the ANA and the MoD will take place on the basis of individual merit and in accordance with accepted principles of balance among different ethnic groups and establishment of trust among all the citizens of this country.

5) The recruitment of soldiers for the ANA will be voluntary and inclusive of all social and ethnic groups. A Sub-commission on Recruitment of Young Soldiers will be established to recruit volunteers representing all of the population of Afghanistan who meet the necessary conditions and are willing to abide by the regulations of ANA. In order to qualify as soldiers of ANA, recruits must successfully complete the training program of the ANA, as jointly designed by Afghanistan and the United States or other designated lead nations.

6) Another Sub-commission will be formed to propose criteria for and carry out the process of selection of officers for the ANA on the basis of merit, ethnic representation and national outlook. Officers selected will complete the aforementioned training program.

7) Concurrent with the recruitment and training of soldiers, a program of collection of arms and reintegration shall be carried out. The ITSA, with the assistance of the United Nations and the Government of Japan as lead nation, shall prepare a comprehensive program of collection of arms and reintegration based upon:

a) The establishment of a Commission on Demobilization with its own chairman by the Defense Commission;

b) Concentration on collection and integration into the ANA of heavy weapons (to include tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery, field guns, multiple-rocket launchers and towed air-defense weapons, etc.; and

c) The development of a comprehensive disarmament, demobilization and reintegration plan for officers and soldiers who meet the necessary conditions with the implementation timelines.

This process shall be subject to independent verification and shall be carried out as rapidly as possible with the assistance of the United Nations, Japan as lead nation and other interested countries.

8) The process of building of the ANA -- including recruitment, training and equipping -- will take several years to complete. Military formations, armed groups, and any other military or paramilitary units that are not part of the ANA shall be prohibited.

9) Taking account of financial constraints, an essential element of the national security strategy for Afghanistan is the furthest consolidation of the ITSA's authority across all of its territory in the shortest period of time.

10) The Defense Commission, under the chairmanship of the Minister of Defense, will report on progress in development of the ANA, the reorganization of the Ministry of Defense, and the reorganization of the units and formations of the army, its relevant offices and appointments of responsible officials to the President of the Islamic Transitional State of Afghanistan. An Advisory Committee -- comprised of members of the Defense Commission, representatives of the United States and Coalition Governments, and the United Nations officials -- will periodically review the progress of the ANA recruitment and training process, promoting financial and technical support for the process within the international community.

11) Financial contributions for the ANA and the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration shall be made in a transparent manner. Contributions shall be made to the United Nations ANA Trust Fund, the Afghan Ministry of Finance or the United States as the designated lead nation for ANA restructuring. Disbursement of funds to the Ministry of Defense shall be through the Ministry of Finance and in accordance with all applicable budgetary, statutory and regulatory requirements of the ITSA. Military finances shall be subject to civilian oversight, auditing and control.

The nation has a special responsibility to recognize the historical legacy of the Afghan mujahadeen [sic] for the Afghan people's freedom and for Islam. The ITSA will consider those qualified Afghan mujahideen [sic] to join the ANA. Those who do not join the ANA will be given special consideration in the reintegration process.

Hoping that our endeavor will be endowed with success by the Almighty God, we are embarking on the renewal and reconstruction of the ANA as an essential step for the realization of the ideals of the Afghan mujahideen who were martyred during the Afghan jihad, of all people of the Afghan nation, and for the securing of national unity, peace and stability in our country. Success is from God.

Hamid Karzai
Islamic Transitional State of Afghanistan

The UN Security Council on 27 November unanimously adopted Resolution 1444, thus extending the International Security Assistance Force's (ISAF) mandate in Kabul for one year, beginning on 20 December. The decision also granted the Security Council's approval for handing joint command of the force over to Germany and the Netherlands. In a commentary on 1 December, the Kabul Pashto-language daily "Hewad" welcomed the Security Council's decision, but stressed that "the people of Afghanistan also believe that the military power of this force [ISAF] should be sent to the centers of some of the important provinces, because the ruined Afghanistan, which has been continuously hit by drought and some other disasters of the heavens, needs speedy reconstruction." According to the commentary, in some provinces of Afghanistan security has not been established and "warlords rob the rights of the people," thus harming reconstruction efforts. "Hewad" added that the people "are satisfied with the government when their property and lives are safe. On the other hand, they should have jobs" to be able to live with dignity. Therefore, according to the commentary, security and reconstruction "have reciprocal effects." President Karzai's administration has repeatedly requested the expansion of ISAF beyond Kabul (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 and 27 November 2002), but thus far troop-contributing countries have refused to do so.

With the Afghan national army still in its formative stages, Karzai's administration in Kabul is unable to exert its control beyond the capital without making deals with local commanders, some of whom have larger military forces than does the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan, and, as is the case with the fighting in western Afghanistan (see below), the warlords do not necessarily follow the directions of Kabul. (Amin Tarzi)

The German cabinet on 3 December extended by one year the mandate for German soldiers serving with the ISAF in Afghanistan, ddp reported. Germany currently has a contingent of 1,289 troops in the ISAF and that number will be increased to approximately 2,000 when Germany and the Netherlands assume joint command of ISAF in mid-February 2003, ddp reported.

Turkey will continue to lead the international force beyond the initial deadline of 20 December in order to give the German and Dutch commands time to organize their force structure and pass the necessary legislation required for the deployment of additional forces by the two countries.

In its Prague Summit Declaration of 21 November, NATO welcomed the "willingness of Germany and the Netherlands jointly to succeed them," and "agreed to provide support in selected areas for the next ISAF lead nations, showing our continued commitment." However, NATO leaders stressed the fact that "the responsibility for providing security and law and order throughout Afghanistan resides with the Afghans themselves." (Amin Tarzi)

On the sidelines of the 2 December Petersberg conference, German Foreign Minster Fischer categorically rejected Karzai's requests that the role of ISAF be expanded beyond Kabul, ddp reported. "The [ISAF] mandate will not be extended," Fischer was quoted by the news agency as saying, adding that "other possibilities" should be used to guarantee security in the country's provinces. It is unclear what other possibilities Fischer was alluding to, but it could be the hope that the Afghan national army is organized rapidly while the warlords are kept at bay by political persuasion and, if necessary, by the use of military force from the coalition forces fighting alongside the United States in Operation Enduring Freedom. (Amin Tarzi)

Senator Richard Lugar (Republican, Indiana), who is preparing to take over as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has said he wants the Bush administration to develop long-term plans for peacekeeping troops in Afghanistan that would prevent the country from slipping further into anarchy, "The New York Times" reported on 4 December. Lugar said that "somebody has to organize this" as no one is doing so now. (Amin Tarzi)

The long-standing rivalry between Herat Governor Mohammad Ismail Khan and Amanullah Khan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November 2002), a commander in southern parts of the province, erupted into a full-scale battle on 1 December, the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) agency reported. Abdul Karim Afghan, a spokesman for Amanullah Khan, told AIP that the area of Zayrkoh has been under artillery attack by Ismail Khan's forces since 20 November, but that on 1 December his forces launched a full-scale ground attack using infantry and tanks. Dozens of men were killed in the operation in which Ismail Khan's forces initially advanced but were eventually pushed back by Amanullah Khan's forces, which captured one tank and several other vehicles, according to Afghan. The fighting continued on 3 December, Radio Free Afghanistan reported the same day.

The fighting began when troops loyal to Amanullah Khan tried to advance on positions held by Ismail Khan's forces near the village of Zayrkoh, according to Radio Free Afghanistan. Earlier reports indicated that Ismail Khan's men instigated the fighting. A delegation from Kabul that was sent to mediate between the two sides has thus far been unsuccessful, Radio Free Afghanistan reported. According to the report, Ismail Khan told the delegation that Dost Mohammad, security chief of the town of Shindand, made a secret arrangement with Amanullah Khan and attacked his forces. Amanullah Khan accused his rival of controlling Herat by himself, and not allowing him or his supporters any role in the affairs of the province, Radio Free Afghanistan reported.

Ismail Khan has accused Amanullah Khan as being a supporter of the Taliban, and is "offering a minimum of cooperation to President Hamid Karzai's central government," "The New York Times" wrote on 2 December. According to the daily, the accusations against Amanullah Khan are "widely discounted by people in the region." A Human Rights Watch report released on 5 November documents widespread abuses by the military, police, and intelligence services under the command of Ismail Khan. The 51-page report entitled "All Our Hopes Are Crushed: Violence and Repression in Western Afghanistan," lists abuses including arbitrary and politically motivated arrests, intimidation, extortion, and torture, as well as serious violations of the rights to free expression and association. (Amin Tarzi)

Abdul Karim Afghan, a spokesman for Amanullah Khan, told AIP that Amanullah Khan has once again requested that the central government intervene to help stop the fighting. "We have informed the head of the transitional government...[of] Hamid Karzai, about the situation, and he has promised to send a delegation to the area soon," Afghan was quoted by AIP as saying on 1 December. Amanullah Khan told AIP on 1 December that "fighting is continuing, and commander Ismail Khan is on his way to the front line with a number of fresh troops." According to international media reports, Amanullah Khan sent a delegation to Kabul in early November to ask President Karzai to intervene in his dispute with Ismail Khan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November 2002). (Amin Tarzi)

A convoy of U.S. Special Forces troops patrolling the area near Shindand air base came under fire on 1 December, after which a U.S. B-52 bomber attacked positions in the area, "The New York Times" reported the next day, citing a spokesman at Bagram Air Base, the headquarters for the United States military operations near Kabul. The daily reported that it was not clear whether Special Forces troops were involved in the fighting that day between Ismail Khan's and Amanullah Khan's forces. "But a small team of Special Forces, or Green Berets, is based in nearby Herat, with the most powerful warlord in the region, Ismail Khan, and may have been with his forces. Or they may have been visiting the area to find out about fighting that had begun the previous evening," according to "The New York Times." Ismail Khan, who is "suspected of possible ties to Iran and has caused concern because he runs his area like a private fief, offering a minimum of cooperation to President Hamid Karzai's central government," the daily added.

Radio Free Afghanistan reported on 3 December that in an air raid carried out on 1 December by a U.S. B-52 bomber, four soldiers loyal to Ismail Khan were killed. (Amin Tarzi)

U.S. troops have taken control of the Shindand air base in western Afghanistan "under the pretext of putting an end" to clashes between Herat Province Governor Ismail Khan and his rival Amanullah Khan, Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran reported on 3 December. The report claimed that after a U.S. B-52 bombed the area around Shindand, the United States "sent hundreds of its troops to Shindand and surrounding areas near the Iranian border." As part of the ongoing Operation Enduring Freedom and war on terrorism, the United States has used the Shindand air base on several occasions in the past and contingents of U.S. Special Forces regularly patrol the area. Iran has been very uneasy about the presence of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, especially near its border, but Tehran has also tried to work with Afghan commanders and warlords in the area, sometimes cooperating, though indirectly, on projects in which the United States is also involved. (Amin Tarzi)

The original 4 December deadline for phasing out all old Afghan currency and replacing it with the new afghani has been pushed back to 6 January, the UN's Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) reported on 4 December. Logistical problems in delivering the new currency to rural countries are largely responsible for the delay, according to the report. "We only have two helicopters to deliver new money to the north -- this is not enough," IRIN quoted central bank Deputy Governor Isa Turab as saying.

However, Turab said that despite some setbacks the distribution of the new currency that began on 7 October is proceeding well. He said 27 billion new afghanis -- one of which is equal to 1,000 old afghanis -- have been printed to replace about 15 trillion afghanis' worth of the old notes, but he admitted that the bank has no clear idea of how many "old afghanis were in circulation after unrestrained printing under Taliban rule and during wars and occupation before it," IRIN reported. According to estimates, 2,000 tons of old afghanis will be destroyed, the report added. "We are looking at 6 January [2003] now, that's when the old notes will be illegal," Turab was quoted by IRIN as saying.

Dirk Bruggemann -- an international monitor with the Louis Berger group, which along with the Afghan government and USAID is helping in replacing the afghani -- told IRIN that northern Afghanistan, because of its remoteness, has created a challenge for the delivery of the new notes, adding that they cannot distribute the new notes without collecting the old ones. "You have to do both at exactly the same time, otherwise there is chaos," Bruggemann told IRIN. Apart from the logistical issues "the predicted security and political problems associated with this process have not materialized," he added. (Amin Tarzi)

The directorate of information and culture of Baghlan Province in northern Afghanistan ordered the closure of "Telayi," Kabul daily "Arman-e Melli" reported on 2 December. The banned publication is described by the Kabul daily as "an independent publication by writers and men of letters of Baghlan Province" and the reason for its closure was given by one of the writers of "Telayi" as "failure to obtain permission by those running the paper." No further details are known about the publication or why it was ordered to close down. The first issue of "Telayi" came out on 6 November. (Amin Tarzi)

As part of the International Organization for Migration's (IOM) "Return of Qualified Afghans Program," a number of professors will be resettled in Khost Province and teach at Khost University, Radio Free Afghanistan reported on 3 December (for more on the "Return of Qualified Afghans Program," see IOM will guarantee a salary of $200 per month for each returning professor for up to one year and the organization will provide each returnee with $600 for relocation to Afghanistan, the report added. According to Najibullah Samim, an IOM representative in Peshawar, Pakistan, the organization has facilitated the return of 328 qualified Afghans in the past year. Samim told Radio Free Afghanistan that 247 of those returnees, who have been employed in the education, health, agriculture, and judiciary sectors, were repatriated from Pakistan. (Amin Tarzi)

Kabul police discovered the mutilated corpse of Kabul University Professor Abdul Hamid on 3 December, Radio Free Afghanistan reported the next day. The victim's family told police that he attended a party that night and never returned. Police are investigating whether the murder was personally or politically motivated, according to the report. Thus far, there is no indication that the murder is linked to the 10-11 November student demonstrations at Kabul University. (Amin Tarzi)

Three members of the nine-member Drafting Committee of the Constitutional Commission appointed on 6 October by Hamid Karzai (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November 2002) held a one-day meeting in Bad Honneff, near Bonn, on 1 December, to discuss ideas for the future Afghan constitution with international experts, RFE/RL reported the same day. Farouk Wardak, the head of the secretariat of the Constitutional Commission, told Radio Free Afghanistan on 2 December that while he was satisfied with the meeting, a "better use of time would have been...if the Afghan team has come prepared before the meeting."

Wardak added that the three broad themes discussed at the meeting were the role of civil society in drafting and implementation of the new constitution, women's rights, and freedom of speech, the radio added. The commission will take one year to draft a new constitution for Afghanistan, after which the document will be submitted to a special constitutional loya jirga (grand assembly) for approval.

According to the Bonn Agreement of 2001, until a new constitution is approved for Afghanistan, a modified version of the 1964 Afghan Constitution will be used. The future constitution will be designed to be both democratic and Islamic. However, many lingering issues still remain to be deal with especially regarding the role of Islam; what schools of Islamic jurisprudence will be promoted as the state creed, if any; rights of women; selection of official languages for the country; and rights of different ethnic groups represented in Afghanistan. (Amin Tarzi)

30 November 1987 -- A Loya Jirga in Kabul approves a new "Islamized" constitution for Afghanistan presented by President Najibullah in an effort to bring the mujahedin to the negotiating table.

4 December 1992 -- New fighting breaks out between Hezb-e Wahdat and the forces of the Rabbani government in Kabul. After two days of fighting Rabbani's side ousts Hezb-e Wahdat from its position as General Abdul Rashid Dostum joins the battle against Rabbani's rule.

28 November 1997 -- A Taliban delegation leaves for Sugar Land, Texas, as guests of Unocal oil company, which was then leading a multinational consortium that was evaluating construction of a gas pipeline between Turkmenistan and Pakistan, through Afghanistan.

Sources: "Taliban" by Ahmed Rashid, (London: Yale University Press), 2000, "Sueddeutsche Zeitung," "Historical Dictionary of Afghanistan" by Ludwig W. Adamec, (Lanham: The Scarecrow Press, Inc.), 1997.