1 September 2004, Volume 3, Number 31
NANGARHAR PROVINCE GOVERNOR TALKS ABOUT ELECTIONS, DRUGS, AND SECURITYBy Tanya Goudsouzian
Haji Din Mohammad, a former mujahedin fighter from the Khales faction of Hizb-e Islami, became governor of the eastern province of Nangarhar after the assassination of his brother, Haji Abdul Qadir, in July 2002. Din Mohammad is also the brother of slain commander Abdul Haq. In an exclusive interview with RFE/RL in Kabul on 27 August, he talked about "Afghan-style" democracy and the need to start rehabilitating opium farmers before they sow seeds for the next season.
RFE/RL: Do you believe democracy will work in Afghanistan?
Din Mohammad: It will be democracy "Afghan style." The shape that it takes will depend on Afghan culture, the prevailing circumstances, and the mentality of the people. The process will be slow, and it may not take hold 100 percent.
RFE/RL: How do you gauge the voter-registration process so far? Has the turnout in the south been satisfactory?
Din Mohammad: In Nangarhar, more than 41 percent of women and 45 percent of men have registered. If these numbers are low, then it is the fault of UNAMA [the United National Assistance Mission in Afghanistan] because they have been slow in our area.
RFE/RL: Are the people enthusiastic about the elections?
Din Mohammad: Yes, it seems the people are keen to participate. For the presidential elections, it's simple enough, because there are only 18 candidates. It's not so bad. But it's going to be very difficult during the parliamentary elections with more people running and more people trying to show their importance. I expect there will be pandemonium.
RFE/RL: Are the warlords impeding the electoral process?
Din Mohammad: I think it is inevitable. There will be some interference from their side, but the majority of average Afghans want to see peace in Afghanistan. They want to live without fighting, and they want to vote. There will be some interference, they will try to impede the process, especially in certain provinces, but they will not be 100 percent successful.
RFE/RL: Is Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai the right man for the job?
Din Mohammad: He has support everywhere. For the prevailing situation, he is best suited.
RFE/RL: What is the situation with the neo-Taliban?
Din Mohammad: There is a problem in the [southeast and] south, mostly in Paktiya, Paktika, and Kandahar [provinces]. They are trying to disrupt the peace and make difficulties during the elections. They have tried to impede the voter-registration process.
RFE/RL: Do these neo-Taliban elements have a presence in Nangarhar?
Din Mohammad: No, they have no presence in Nangarhar. Yes, there have been efforts to sabotage the peace, and the electoral work, but they are no longer an organized group. They don't have the capacity to take over a district or even a village. They are not in such a position.
RFE/RL: But they were responsible for the assassination of Ajab Khan, military commander of Jalalabad, on 1 June [see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 2 June 2004]?
Din Mohammad: No, from the investigations, it was not clear who was responsible. All that can be said is that the perpetrators were enemies of peace.
RFE/RL: The cultivation of opium poppy has hit record highs since the current administration took office, and Nangarhar is one of the top producers [see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 20 February, 29 May, and 5 June 2003 and 12 February, 2 and 10 June 2004]. Why is nothing being done to curb the trade?
Din Mohammad: The problem is endemic in the country -- not just in Nangarhar. We are trying to solve this problem, and we are in contact with specialized international agencies. We are pushing them to come in and to make a rehabilitation program for us, but until now, we have seen nothing concrete. We ask that they devise viable policies to rehabilitate the farmers; to find alternative crops for them to cultivate. We hope that this year something will be done before the cultivation begins. October is when they start sowing the seeds, and April is when they start to reap. The program must start before October. Now is the time to start.
RFE/RL: So you think the international agencies are not doing enough?
Din Mohammad: Some groups have come to Jalalabad to talk to me about the problem. I tell them, it's not enough to talk to me; they must talk to the farmers and see what they have to say. They need to find a way to solve the problems of the farmers. The farmers have a lot of difficulties. They have a shortage of water. There can find no alternative employment. We need to solve these problems for them first. We have to find replacement crops, give them the seeds, fertilizer, and enough water. If these problems are solved and they still do not stop farming the poppy, only then do we have the moral right to enforce the law -- to use the police to stop them.
RFE/RL: But how did the Taliban manage to significantly reduce the cultivation of opium poppy?
Din Mohammad: The Taliban managed to do so only for a year . The cultivation of opium poppy has been going on for decades in this country, mostly in three provinces: Helmand [in the south], Nangarhar [in the east], and Badakhshan [in the northwest]. But in Badakhshan and Nimroz, the problem is compounded by the fact that they also consume the poppies, by smoking or eating. In Nangarhar, no one consumes the poppies; they are just for export. Except maybe a few individuals who come from Peshawar [Pakistan], they may smoke it.
RFE/RL: What is the state of security in Nangarhar?
Din Mohammad: Well, at one point, the kidnapping of young children was a problem. They would abduct the children for their kidneys or eyes, for the black-market trade of human organs. But in recent months we have worked hard to raise awareness across the province so that now people here are very vigilant. If they see someone talking to a child in a suspicious manner, they would act. Of course, this has resulted in some rather comical incidents.... Someone may want to affectionately tease a child on the street and bystanders have misinterpreted it as an attempt to abduct the child. But all in all the campaign has been successful and such kidnappings have been reduced.
RFE/RL: Do you plan to run for the parliamentary elections coming up in six months?
Din Mohammad: There's some time to go for that. Let's now prepare for the presidential elections.
(Tanya Goudsouzian is a freelance journalist who covers Afghanistan.)
AT LEAST 10 KILLED IN KABUL BOMB ATTACK...The Afghan Interior Ministry's chief of security for Kabul, General Baba Jan, said on 30 August that 10 people were killed in the bomb attack in central Kabul on 29 August, Radio Afghanistan reported. Ten others were injured, and a large number of shops and residential houses were destroyed or damaged. Three U.S. citizens, three Afghans, and three Nepalese Gurkhas working as security guards have been confirmed killed in a blast aimed at a building occupied by U.S.-based DynCorp Inc., a firm that provides security for Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai and also trains the Afghan police force. Nick Downie, the security coordinator for the Afghanistan NGO Security Office, who visited the site of the attack, estimated that up to 11 people might have been killed and several others injured, "The New York Times," reported on 30 August. Citing the heavy security DynCorp had near its building, Downie said that the attack was either a "suicide attack or a Trojan horse that got past some very good security on that street." Lutfullah Mash'al, a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, said the attack was likely to have been a suicide mission. However, the Interior Ministry's chief of security for Kabul, General Baba Jan, said on 29 August that the "explosion was not caused by a suicide attack. It was a car bomb," Radio Free Afghanistan reported on 30 August. (Amin Tarzi)
...AS NEO-TALIBAN CLAIM RESPONSIBILITY...Mufti Latifullah Hakimi, claiming to speak on behalf of the neo-Taliban, told the Peshawar-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) on 29 August that the bombing in Kabul the same day was a "suicide attack" that the militia carried out. "A large number of our mujahedin [fighters] have entered Kabul and will carry out more attacks," Hakimi warned. Apparently another neo-Taliban spokesman, Abdul Latif Hakimi, told Reuters on 29 August that the bomb was remotely detonated by a member of the militia. According to an AP report of 30 August, the person alleging that a remote-controlled device caused the blast is named Mullah Hakim Latifi. In two telephone calls on 29 August, alleged neo-Taliban spokesmen Mullah Janan and Mullah Hakim also claimed responsibility for the Kabul blast and expressed regret for the loss of Afghan lives in the incident, Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television reported. Mullah Hakim, Latifullah Hakimi, Abdul Latif Hakimi, and Mullah Hakim Latifi might be the same person. However, Mullah Janan appears to be a new name on the growing list of individuals claiming to speak on behalf of the neo-Taliban. In a statement in February, the ousted Taliban movement named Hamed Agha as its only authorized spokesman (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 4 March 2004). (Amin Tarzi)
...ECHOING A CLAIM ALSO MADE BY AL-QAEDA.A 29 August statement in the name of the Al-Qaeda Organization in Afghanistan and posted on a Jihadist website (http://www.islamic-minbar.com/forum) similarly claimed responsibility for the Kabul blast earlier the same day. "The mujahedin succeeded in placing a bomb in a vehicle and remotely detonating it in front of the American Center, killing at least six Americans and three Afghan collaborators," the statement claims. It says the operation was carried out with the "help of our brothers, the mujahedin from the Taliban." The statement repeats the warning of more attacks, made in the name of the neo-Taliban. The statement in the name of Al-Qaeda suggests the blast was not a suicide mission. (Amin Tarzi)
U.S. EMBASSY WARNS CITIZENS AND EXPRESSES SHOCK.The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan on 30 August warned its citizens to keep a low profile in Kabul, AP reported. In a statement released on 29 August, the embassy expressed its shock at the deaths caused by the explosion in Kabul that it said occurred "at a police-training facility." "This cowardly attack will not deter U.S. participation in the ongoing effort to help Afghanistan stand on its own feet," U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said. General Baba Jan said that in the area of the blast "there were two houses of our international friends. This was not a military center [apparently referring to the reports of the target being a police-training center]," Radio Free Afghanistan reported on 29 August. (Amin Tarzi)
10 KILLED IN SCHOOL BLAST IN EASTERN AFGHANISTAN.Ten people, including several children, were killed in a blast at a school in the village of Tatanak, in the Paktiya Province on 28 August, international news agencies reported. "There were four children, five teenagers, and one adult killed," U.S. military spokeswoman Master Sergeant Ann Bennett said in Kabul, Reuters reported on 29 August. Paktiya Governor Asadullah Wafa said the explosion occurred at a school that "taught a modern education along with lessons from the Koran by a religious scholar," and it was financed by the International Committee of the Red Cross, AIP reported on 29 August. "I do not know who was behind this, but I know that whoever he was he is the enemy of the country and [Islam]," Wafa added. No one has claimed responsibility for the blast. (Amin Tarzi)
CLASHES IN LAGHMAN PROVINCE LEAVE CASUALTIES.Three people have been killed and six, including women, have been injured in clashes between two armed groups in Laghman Province east of Kabul, AIP reported on 26 August. An unidentified security official from Laghman confirmed the clashes took place, adding that the incident occurred in Korini village and was brought to an end by provincial security forces, who also detained a number of people in connection with the violence. The identity of the armed groups and the cause of the clash are not known. (Amin Tarzi)
AFGHAN SECURITY FORCES DISCOVER EXPLOSIVES IN KABUL.Afghanistan's National Security Department (NSD) seized large amounts of explosives in Kabul on 30 August, Radio Afghanistan reported, quoting the official Bakhtar News Agency. The seizure reportedly included roughly 600 kilograms of explosives along with 50 meters of fuse hidden in two houses in the Khairabad and Chahar Asiab districts of Kabul. Three people have been arrested in the case. The explosives were reportedly prepared for use in the capital. The NSD also discovered 16 antipersonnel mines in Kabul's 16th District. (Amin Tarzi)
UNAMA DOES NOT EXPECT WITHDRAWAL FROM AFGHANISTAN...UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said on 22 August that he does not expect the United Nations to withdraw its staff from Afghanistan, according to UNAMA's website (http://www.unama-afg.org). De Almeida e Silva said the suggestion by an official from the UN staff union in New York that the organization should withdraw all of its members from Afghanistan, as they could become targets of violence in the run-up to the country's presidential elections, did not come from the UN in Afghanistan (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 26 August 2004). According to the UNAMA spokesman, while security remains a "matter of great concern" to the UN in Afghanistan, different parts of the country present different risks and the organization continues to work based on evaluating such an approach. (Amin Tarzi)
...AND UN UPDATES NUMBER OF AFGHAN VOTERS AS REGISTRATION CLOSES.As of 21 August the number of registered voters in Afghanistan stood at 10,353,380, of whom 58.6 percent are men and 41.4 percent are women, a 23 August press release by the UNAMA indicated. While the main voter-registration process ended on 15 August, the UN-led Joint Electoral Management Body continued to register voters until 20 August in seven provinces in the troubled south and southeastern parts of the country (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 18 August 2004). The current tally is not final, as data continues to come in and is being verified in Kabul, the statement added. (Amin Tarzi)
KABUL DAILY ASKS FOR U.S. IMPARTIALITY IN ELECTIONS.In a commentary on 22 August, "Arman-e Melli" asked the United States to respect the "principle of impartiality" during the upcoming presidential election and not to "impose [Afghan leader Hamid] Karzai as president at all costs." The paper said it expects that the United States will "support the practical aspirations and will of the people of Afghanistan." (Amin Tarzi)
AFGHAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE DECLINES U.S. ENVOY'S REQUEST THAT HE DROP OUT...Former Planning Minister and Afghan presidential candidate Mohammad Mohaqeq said on 25 August that he will not quit the race, the official Bakhtar News Agency reported. U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad "asked me to withdraw my candidacy in favor of [Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman] Karzai. However, I was informed later that Mr. Karzai regretted what he had said to Khalilzad. Therefore, we could not reach an agreement," Mohaqeq told a news conference in Kabul. Mohaqeq, who until March served in Karzai's administration (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 11 March 2004), said that the October election will be "the first experience of democracy with the peaceful handover of power on [the basis of] a popular vote." (Amin Tarzi)
...AS ANOTHER CANDIDATE RESISTS CALL FOR KARZAI'S RESIGNATION...Presidential candidate Abdul Hasib Aryan told a news conference in Kabul on 24 August that he does not agree with the proposal that Karzai should step down before the elections, Afghanistan Television reported. Aryan said that he and his vice-presidential running mates did not take part in a meeting held on 19 August and led by candidate Abdul Sattar Sirat in which a call was made for Karzai's resignation (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report" 26 August 2004). While not backing the call for Karzai's resignation, Aryan said that he urges Karzai and members of his cabinet not to use their official positions to gain support for the Afghan leader. Karzai has rejected the call for his resignation, calling it unconstitutional. (Amin Tarzi)
...AND REMAINING CANDIDATES CALLING FOR KARZAI'S RESIGNATION EXTEND THEIR DEADLINE.Fifteen presidential candidates calling for Hamid Karzai to resign before the 9 October election have extended their deadline by another week, Hindukosh News Agency reported on 26 August. The candidates held a meeting on 26 August in which they invited Karzai to meet with them on 3 September or another date and clarify issues related to the election. The chairman of the meeting, independent candidate Homayun Shah Asefi, alleged that the Interior and Border and Tribal Affairs ministries are inviting tribal and clan chiefs and are giving them ultimatums to vote for Karzai. According to the report, of the 17 candidates challenging Karzai, only Abdul Hasib Aryan and Mas'uda Jalal are not backing the call for his resignation. (Amin Tarzi)
DEFENSE MINISTER ISSUES 'LAST WARNING' ON DEMOBILIZATION PROGRAM.Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim has instructed all militia commanders to complete the UN-backed Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) program within their military units before the 9 October presidential election, Afghanistan Television reported on 29 August. "Disarmament must be carried out in accordance with the plan before the presidential elections. The Defense Ministry is announcing this for the last time," announced Fahim, who himself commands a militia. But First Deputy Defense Minister General Abdul Rahim Wardak has indicated that only 40 percent of the country's militias must be disarmed before the elections, the station reported later the same day. Speaking at a news conference on 30 August, Defense Ministry spokesman General Zaher Azimi reiterated Fahim's warning, adding that the defense minister has "stressed that the demobilization program must be implemented in accordance with the plan and ahead of the elections and that this is the Defense Ministry's last warning," Radio Afghanistan reported. The DDR program has fallen behind schedule and many powerful warlords have not yet surrendered weapons. According to the DDR's stated schedule, 40 percent of militia forces were to have been disarmed by July, with a further 20 percent disarmed ahead of elections. (Amin Tarzi)
WARLORD IN WESTERN AFGHANISTAN ACCUSES IRAN OF SUPPORTING RIVAL...Abdul Karim Afghan, a spokesman for Amanullah Khan, a local warlord in Herat Province, accused Iran on 25 August of providing military aid to Herat Governor Mohammad Ismail Khan, Peshawar-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reported. Discussing the recent fighting between militias loyal to Amanullah Khan and Ismail Khan, the spokesman said the governor has "established an Afghanistan inside Afghanistan" while maintaining "a private army" (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 18 and 26 August 2004). Afghan alleged that Ata Mohammad Nur, governor of Balkh Province in northern Afghanistan, has dispatched 2,000 fighters to Herat disguised as civilians. "Iran has provided Mohammad Ismail Khan with 6,000 weapons in order to arm these forces, and these troops have been integrated" into the governor's militia, Afghan claimed. Both Nur and Ismail Khan are supporters of the Jami'at-e Islami party and while officially holding governor posts, command their own militias independent of the Afghan National Army.
On 26 August, the Afghan Interior Ministry rejected reports that troops from the Balkh Province in northern Afghanistan have arrived in Herat Province, Afghanistan Television reported. The Interior Ministry said in a written statement that it "rejects claims made by Aref Afghan and regards such claims as rumors." Afghan has been identified by AIP as Abdul Karim, and he is alleged to have been sent 2,000 troops. In its statement, the Interior Ministry refers to "Aref Afghan" and gives the number of fighters as 2,500. The Interior Ministry statement does not mention the allegation of Iranian military support.
Without reference to the Interior Ministry's statement, spokesmen for the Ghor and Badghis provinces to the west and northwest of Herat, respectively, condemned the dispatch of forces from Balkh to help Ismail Khan, AIP reported on 26 August.
Ahmad Ayyubi, spokesman for Ghor's Public Council, told AIP that the "dispatch of forces from other provinces to Herat is a negative action and we are strictly against it." According to Ayyubi, sending troops from other provinces will only complicate the situation, and only efforts "in line with the central government's instructions" can be helpful. General Mohammad Omar Nezami, speaking for Badghis Governor Azizullah Afzali, also condemned the dispatch of forces to Herat and said it will "create tension in the area." "The only way to resolve the Herat problem is to sack Mohammad Ismail Khan from his post," Nazemi added. A delegation representing Balkh Governor Nur and the leader of Junbish-e Melli party, General Abdul Rashid Dostum, is in Herat trying to mediate between Ismail Khan and Ghor Governor Ebrahim Malikzadah and Afzali; however, Nezami predicted that the delegation will not be able to solve the problem as long as Ismail Khan rules Herat. (Amin Tarzi)
NATO-LED RECONSTRUCTION TEAM BEGINS WORK IN NORTHEASTERN AFGHANISTAN.The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) established a new Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) on 24 August in Pol-e Khomri, the provincial capital of Baghlan Province, Radio Afghanistan reported. Baghlan Governor Faqir Mohammad Mamozai asked the new PRT to help rebuild the sugar and cement factories in the province. Soldiers from the Netherlands will be stationed in Baghlan as part of the PRT. (For more on NATO's expanded role in Afghanistan, see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 16 June and 1 July 2004.) (Amin Tarzi)
AFGHAN DRUG ENFORCER ACCUSES OFFICIAL OF INVOLVEMENT IN THE TRADE.The director of Afghanistan's Counternarcotics Directorate, Mirwais Yasini, accused unnamed government officials of involvement in the country's growing narcotics trade in an interview with the Kabul-based daily "Anis" on 28 August. "There is no doubt that certain government officials are involved in the smuggling, trafficking, and cultivation of narcotics," Yasini said, adding that the names of such individuals will be made public in the "foreseeable future." Yasini reaffirmed his earlier statement that the Afghan government intends to reduce opium production by 70 percent by 2007 and totally eradicate the problem by 2012 (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 6 November 2003). According to Yasini, the special police force formed earlier this year by the Interior Ministry to combat narcotics has destroyed 54 laboratories and 144 tons of opium, heroin, hashish, and morphine. According to UN statistics, Afghanistan accounts for close to 80 percent of the world's opium supply. Critics have accused both the Afghan administration and its international backers of ignoring the country's drug problem, although it appears to have received increased attention more recently. (Amin Tarzi)
AFGHAN LEADER ENVISAGES OPEN BORDER WITH PAKISTAN...During his visit to Pakistan on 24 August, Chairman Karzai said that he looks forward to an open border between his country and Pakistan, Lahore daily "The Nation," reported on 25 August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 and 24 August 2004). Responding to a question on his stance regarding the disputed border between the two neighboring countries, Karzai said that he favors movement across it "without visas." No Afghan government has officially recognized the border with Pakistan, known as the Durand Line (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 7 August 2003). Karzai's suggestion may be one way to solve the long-standing problem between Afghanistan and Pakistan by making the border more transparent and thus less important. (Amin Tarzi)
...AS THE TWO COUNTRIES AGREE ON PRISONER-RELEASE DEAL.Chairman Karzai and his host, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, have agreed on a prisoner-release program, the Associate Press of Pakistan news agency reported on 24 August. According to the agreement, Afghanistan is to release 400 Pakistanis while Pakistan will release 250 Afghans who have been arrested "for minor consular offenses," the report added. Most of the Pakistani prisoners in Afghanistan were volunteers who fought alongside the former Taliban regime. The agreement between Karzai and Musharraf came at the conclusion of Karzai's two-day trip to Pakistan (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 26 August 2004). (Amin Tarzi)
U.S. ANALYST SAYS PAKISTAN IS LETTING TALIBAN SURVIVE.Islamabad's recent efforts on the war on terrorism have focused on Al-Qaeda fighters. But now there are growing calls from Western diplomats, the Afghan Transitional Administration and the United Nations for Pakistan to rein in the Taliban militants who have fled from Afghanistan into Pakistan since late 2001.
Barnett Rubin, the director of the Center on International Cooperation at New York University, is among many South Asia analysts who think Pakistan's security forces are intentionally overlooking the presence of Taliban militants on their territory.
Most experts agree that Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency helped create the Taliban and gave it the military and financial support it needed to take control over most of Afghanistan in the mid-1990s. Islamabad has repeatedly denied those allegations and insists that it cut all ties with the Taliban when it joined the U.S.-led war on terrorism after the attacks of 11 September 2001.
But like many independent analysts, Rubin insists that Pakistan's security services have fostered religious fundamentalism for years in order to promote Islamabad's foreign-policy goals. He said the key motivations include strategic concerns about India, as well as the dormant "Pashtunistan" question -- that is, the fear in Islamabad that ethnic Pashtun nationalists might take power in Kabul and make territorial claims on Pakistan's ethnic Pashtun border regions.
"Supporting some antigovernment forces in Afghanistan is something that Pakistan has done for decades in order to have some leverage over the government of Afghanistan," Rubin said. "They did have a long-term commitment toward supporting ethnic Pashtun religious extremists in Afghanistan in order to assure that an Afghan government would side with Pakistan against India and would not raise the issue of the Pashtun territories. [That's because] the Pashtun Islamists -- unlike the Pashtun nationalists -- do not support that kind of ethnic issue against a fellow Muslim country."
Senior Western diplomats in Kabul told "The New York Times" this week that Pakistan's security services are allowing Taliban fighters to operate training camps in Pakistan and cross back into Afghanistan to conduct terrorist attacks aimed at undermining the presidential election there in October.
Pakistani Army officials call that allegation "ridiculous." Pakistan's UN ambassador, Munir Akram, told the UN Security Council on 25 August that his country has taken extraordinary efforts to safeguard its border with Afghanistan, including the deployment of 75,000 troops.
Rubin agrees with authorities in Islamabad who argue that Pakistan's military does not control many parts of the tribal regions near the border. But Rubin said there are other reasons Taliban militants are not being arrested in Pakistan.
"The Pakistani military is moving against Al-Qaeda, [but] they're not doing anything against the Taliban. Most of the Taliban activities are not in the tribal territories," Rubin said. "They are in the city of Quetta. They are in Baluchistan. They are in areas that are firmly under the control of the Pakistani government. Therefore, Pakistan has no credibility. They've been supplied with information about the exact location of various major Taliban leaders. And they have done nothing. Instead, whenever there is pressure on [Pakistan] about the Taliban, they arrest more Al-Qaeda people -- meaning people from Arab countries or from small extremist groups. But they do not move against the Taliban."
Rubin said that Pakistan is not trying to undermine Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai's government or create a new Taliban regime. But he believes that elements within the government or security services want to use Taliban militants for future leverage against pro-Indian officials in Kabul.
"They do not believe that the United States and the rest of the Western countries are going to stay in Afghanistan. They believe that it is quite possible -- maybe a year after the U.S. presidential election [in November] -- these countries will start drawing down their forces and abandon Afghanistan again," Rubin said. "And therefore, they believe it is inevitable that there will be another power struggle in Afghanistan in which various regional powers will try to position their allies within the government and within the society. They don't want to cut their ties to those who may be ready to defend their interest in Afghanistan when that struggle resumes again."
Rubin said the economic issues discussed during Karzai's two-day visit to Islamabad this week could eventually act as an important counterbalance to the policies of Pakistan's security services.
"In the past, the Pakistani military saw Afghanistan only as a potential security threat or a potential security asset. Now, Pakistan's business community -- which is becoming more assertive -- is seeing Afghanistan as a major opportunity," Rubin said. "They are starting to put forward the idea that a stable, reconstructed Afghanistan is strongly in Pakistan's interests because of the economic implications, regardless of the political coloration or ethnic composition of the government of the day in Kabul."
But Rubin concluded that Pakistan's security forces will continue to have the final word for now because there is no real public input into Pakistan's security policies and the military is not subject to any kind of civilian control or oversight. (Roy Synovitz)
THIS WEEK IN AFGHANISTAN'S HISTORY:31 August 1959 -- Afghan women appear unveiled in public at National Day celebrations.
30 August 1989 -- Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hizb-e Islami withdraws from the mujahedin alliance.
31 August 1995 -- The government of President Burhanuddin Rabbani refuses permission for Afghan women's delegation to participate at the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing.
Sources: "Historical Dictionary of Afghanistan," Third Edition, by Ludwig W. Adamec, (Lanham: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2003); "Kronolozhi-ye hawadis-e tarikhi-ye Afghanistan" Second Edition, by Jamil al-Rahman Kamgar, (Kabul: Maiwand Press, 2004).