11 July 2003, Volume 2, Number 24
KARZAI'S 'FIRST FOREIGN-POLICY SPEECH' TRIGGERS ANTI-PAKISTAN RIOTBy Amin Tarzi
On the occasion of the inauguration of the International Press Center in the Ministry of Information and Culture in Kabul on 6 July, Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai delivered a bellicose speech, which had little to do with the events of the day, but rather targeted Pakistan.
Karzai told his audience that he would present them with "a brief sketch of not only what happened in Afghanistan, but more importantly, what we Afghans have felt and thought about what happened." In other words, Karzai made it clear in the beginning of his speech that the perceptions held by Afghans, presumably including himself, are as important as the events that he would recount.
He then said that since 27 December 1979, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan triggering a "holy war (jihad) and massive emigration," the country has suffered from the effects of "dual extremism" -- communism and religious-based extremism. Karzai claimed that both of these extremisms "were completely alien" to Afghanistan and the Afghans.
Trying to illustrate that the Afghans were not behind the rise of extremism and terrorism that emanated from their country, Karzai spoke about the Soviet Union withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan in 1989. He said that the "countries of the world" that had supported the anti-Soviet struggle by the Afghans "turned their backs," leaving Afghanistan "to the mercy of the regional powers, and to its neighbors." Karzai criticized the absence of acknowledgment by the United States, Europe, and the Muslim world of the sacrifices made by the Afghans in helping to bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union. Furthermore, he claimed that this was "at the heart" of the failure of the Afghan mujahedin groups to establish a credible government after their victory over the Soviet- and later Russian-backed Communist regime of President Najibullah in 1992.
At this juncture, most likely referring to Pakistan, Karzai said that Afghanistan faced a "new form of aggression: a more comprehensive one; one that spanned cultural subjugation too." According to Karzai, the "aggressor" -- not naming Pakistan directly -- intended to destroy Afghan history and historical identity, culture, and economy. He added that, "Educated Afghans were to be either killed or expelled." The Afghan leader's own father, Abdul Ahad Karzai, who was politically active and supported the policies put forth by former Afghan King Mohammad Zaher, was assassinated in Pakistan in 1999.
After the events of 11 September 2001, "finally the world woke up," Karzai continued. "Driven by their own interests," the international community began to reengage itself in Afghanistan. "The Afghans forgot and forgave." Again making a masked reference to Pakistan, the Afghan leader said, "We forgave...those neighbors who had attacked us, who had fragmented us, killed us in thousands, and destroyed our land."
Then Karzai turned to the more recent events, saying the extremism "that was aimed at harming Afghanistan, has now got its claws deep inside Afghanistan and Pakistan." The deadly 4 July attack against a mosque in the Pakistani city of Quetta and the assault on a mosque in Kandahar three days earlier "are examples of the consequences that resulted from the mistake of cherishing extremism for the destruction of Afghanistan." Here Karzai was referring to the policy in the 1980s to radicalize the Afghan mujahedin by infusing Arab and Pakistani fighters among their ranks. Later in the 1990s, the creation of the Taliban who sheltered Al-Qaeda terrorist networks was a direct result. He added that today the seeds of plans to radicalize the Afghan opposition and extremist foreign fighters still present in the region are "emerging within Pakistan."
Karzai said that during their struggle against the Soviet Red Army, those who shouted "slogans of friendship" stabbed the Afghans in the back. Then, turning to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, whom he referred to as "a close friend," Karzai said that remarks made by the Pakistani leader while in Europe "saddened" him.
While Karzai did not elaborate in his speech, the remarks that caused the greatest apprehension to him were made during Musharraf's visit to Paris on 5 July. Musharraf spoke about Al-Qaeda terror network leader Osama bin Laden and said that he might be hiding in Afghanistan because "there is a total power vacuum. The weight of the government does not go beyond the capital [Kabul]." Furthermore, Musharraf criticized the ethnic imbalance in the Afghan Transitional Administration. Karzai stated that he wished to speak to Musharraf soon to "seek clarification as to what his intention has been."
Karzai's speech then turned more offensive, while tentatively offering an olive branch. He said, "Afghanistan keeps friends, but knows its interests." Karzai, in lofty words, basically said that Afghanistan knows its limits but hopes that its neighbors -- i.e. Pakistan -- know their limits. "Afghanistan will not become a gamble any more," he declared. "We have preserved our land with our blood."
At the end of his speech, Karzai said that Afghanistan desires a "friendly and constructive relationship" with all of its neighbors, and it wishes to harm no one. He concluded his speech, amid approving applause, by stating, "if you are in doubt about my Afghan valor; you will know it when you face me in battle."
Karzai's unusually strong language, especially against a foreign state, was the result of several possible factors.
First, Karzai must have felt a level of personal frustration and disillusionment with Musharraf, whom he has genuinely called a brother and a friend -- not just within diplomatic niceties. While Pakistani officials have since claimed that Musharraf's remarks were misunderstood and that he merely wanted to help the Afghan cause, Karzai must have regarded these comments not only as an interference in his country's internal affairs, but as a public disapproval of his own performance. This may be something that he hears much from international media and organizations, but not from world leaders to whom Karzai is, at least publicly, revered as a hero. In short, it appears that Musharraf's comments hurt Karzai's feelings.
Second, and more importantly, although Karzai did not directly discuss the current and ongoing incursions inside Afghan territory by Pakistani militia (see news items below), the speech may have been used as a way to tell his own nation that he cares about these reports and is ready to lead them in battle, if necessary. One need only to recall Pakistan's recent past adventures within Afghanistan to gain some appreciation of Afghan apprehension and fear over Pakistani incursions, however minor they may prove to be at the end.
Third, Karzai has been under pressure by various Afghan factions, specially the dominant United Front (Northern Alliance) forces, after his April speech in which he tried to draw a line between good and bad Taliban (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 3 July 2003). By disassociating himself from Pakistan -- the main backer and in some sense the creator of the Taliban movement -- Karzai may have desired to champion an Afghan nationalist stance. Many in Afghanistan, including Karzai, most probably were incensed to hear Musharraf patronize the Afghans by pointing to problems that many believe were and continue to be fueled by the Pakistanis themselves. And, by using the phrase "forgetting and forgiving" more than once, he may have wanted to also signal that anyone who today is loyal to Afghanistan is forgiven, regardless of their past behavior. In the upcoming 2004 presidential election in Afghanistan, if Karzai is to win in a truly democratic race, he needs the backing of the disenchanted Pashtuns.
Whatever Karzai's main reason for delivering his first major "foreign policy" speech, the events of 8 July -- in which the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul was ransacked by a mob (see news items below) -- turned the tables on him. Following the attack on the Pakistani mission, Karzai told a news conference in Kabul that he had expected a call from Musharraf to explain the remarks he made about Afghanistan in his recent tour of Europe. But, he offered, under the circumstances he decided to call Musharraf himself and "apologize for the incident." Karzai, to the disapproval of many Afghans, described the attackers as "enemies of Afghan-Pakistani friendship [and] of peace and prosperity of the Afghan people."
From Karzai's swift reaction and strong condemnation of the attack against the Pakistani Embassy it can be deduced that he was not expecting such a popular violent response to his speech. Or perhaps he was discounting the fact that other political players inside his own administration might use this opportunity to create a greater rift between Kabul and Islamabad that has opened in the last weeks.
While his 6 July speech may have backfired in the short-term, Karzai also faces a greater long-term dilemma. Karzai must show his people that the borders of his country are safe from intrusion by its neighbors. For its part, Afghanistan must -- once and for all -- accept the legitimacy and legality of its boundary with Pakistan at which it has to this day balked at doing. Then Pakistan has to respect that border as an international line between two countries, not as a line in the battlefield against terrorists, or as it was regarded in the past, against the communists. Only the strongest ally for both of Kabul and Islamabad, the United States, can pressure both sides to solve their problems.
There is a feeling held widely among Afghans that was illustrated by Karzai: that Afghanistan will be delivered to the will of Pakistan. As Karzai has rightly warned, the international community should "not repeat that mistake again."
(Kimberly McCloud contributed to this article.)
AFGHAN-PAKISTANI FORCES REPORTEDLY CLASH ALONG BORDER...Two Afghan soldiers were wounded in recent clashes with Pakistani forces in the Mohmand tribal areas along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, dpa reported on 3 July, citing Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP). An Afghan security official in Jalalabad said Afghan forces were deployed along the border after incursions by Pakistani forces, AIP reported. After a meeting with Mohmand tribal leaders, during which they claimed the fighting erupted after Pakistani forces violated Afghan territory, Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai dispatched a delegation comprising representatives from the Defense, Interior, and Frontier, and Tribal Affairs ministries to the region to review the situation and report to Kabul, Radio Afghanistan reported on 6 July. Nangarhar military corps commander Hazrat-e Ali is not happy that Pakistan has established border posts along the disputed border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to Hindukosh news agency on 3 July. Pakistan has denied that its forces have crossed into Afghanistan, dpa reported. The Afghanistan-Pakistan border has never officially been recognized by Afghanistan, and has been at the core of disagreements between the two states since Pakistan was created in 1947. (Amin Tarzi)
...WHICH REPORTEDLY CONTINUES.According to residents of the Mohmand tribal areas, heavy artillery fire continued on 7 July between Afghan and Pakistani forces in the areas of Yaqubi and Bradra, AIP reported. While no official reports of casualties have been reported, AIP said two injured Afghan soldiers were transferred to a hospital in Jalalabad. The Mohmand tribal confederation lives on either side of the Afghan-Pakistani border and there are reports that Pakistani border forces have moved into the Afghan section of the area, claiming it as their own, according to AIP. The border between Afghanistan and Pakistan has never been officially recognized by Afghanistan and parts of it remain in dispute. (Amin Tarzi)
AFGHAN-PAKISTANI TENSIONS RISE OVER COMMENTS BY MUSHARRAF...Already strained tensions between Kabul and Islamabad worsened after Afghan government spokesman Ahmad Jawayed Lodin on 7 July accused Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf of interfering in Afghanistan's domestic affairs during his recent tour of Europe and the United States, Radio Afghanistan reported. Relations had soured in the wake of clashes that broke out last week in Mohmand tribal areas on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Musharraf was quoted as saying in Paris on 5 July that Osama bin Laden could be "in Afghanistan, where there is a total power vacuum," AFP reported. In addition, Musharraf said, "The weight of the government does not go beyond the capital [Kabul]." Musharraf also criticized the ethnic imbalance of the Afghan Transitional Administration, Reuters reported on 7 July, and other news agencies reported that he suggested that international forces in Afghanistan should be withdrawn at some point. Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai said in a speech on 6 July, a copy of which has been obtained by RFE/RL, that Musharraf's comments "have become a subject of sadness and regret" for him. Karzai plans to call the Pakistani president "in the coming days" to receive "some explanation as to what his intention was" (for an analysis of Karzai's speech, see feature above). (Amin Tarzi)
...AS PAKISTANI AMBASSADOR IN KABUL IS SUMMONED TO DISCUSS BORDER CLASH.Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Mohammad Rahim Sherzai met on 7 July with Pakistani Ambassador to Afghanistan Rostam Shah Mohmand, telling him that Afghanistan considers the recent clashes near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border "interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan and a violation of the noninterference declaration signed on 22 December 2002," Radio Afghanistan reported. The "Kabul Agreement" was signed by Afghanistan and its six neighbors in an effort to prevent interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs on the part of its neighbors, particularly Pakistan and Iran, which following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 became heavily involved in the internal affairs of Afghanistan through their support of various groups inside the county. Pakistan backed the Taliban regime in Afghanistan militarily and politically (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 9 January 2003). Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan said on 7 July that while intermittent firing has occurred across the Afghan-Pakistani border, the situation has not reached "an alarming scale." He added that Islamabad respects the border between the two counties, Reuters reported. (Amin Tarzi)
ANTI-PAKISTAN RALLY ORGANIZED BY AFGHAN POLITICAL PARTY IN KABUL...Apart from the violent demonstration that targeted the Pakistani Embassy on 8 July (see below), a larger anti-Pakistan rally was organized the same day in Kabul by the Afghan Mellat (Afghan Nation) party led by Anwar al-Haq Ahadi, president of Afghanistan's central bank, the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press reported. Afghan Mellat is a nationalist party that in the past has backed the self-determination of Pashtuns living in Pakistan. "We want good relations with Pakistan but we will not tolerate anybody's interference," the BBC quoted Ahadi as saying. A representative of the Nohzat-e Melli (National Movement) party also spoke at the rally. Demonstrators protested what they called Pakistan's violation of Afghan territory in the Mohmand tribal areas, and symbolically stopped at a square named Pashtunistan -- the name used by Afghans for Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province. This demonstration might have been staged by Pashtun-based political parties in an effort to differentiate themselves from the Taliban, which was mostly composed of Pashtuns but was supported by Islamabad. (Amin Tarzi)
...AS SIMILAR MARCH TAKES PLACE IN MAZAR-E SHARIF.Hundreds of students from Balkh University in Mazar-e Sharif staged an anti-Pakistan demonstration on 8 July to criticize Pakistan's incursion into Afghan territory, Hindukosh news agency reported. The demonstrators burned an effigy of Pakistani President Musharraf and later attacked the offices of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, demanding the unconditional withdrawal of Pakistani forces from the "occupied areas" of Afghanistan. The demonstrators also hailed Chairman Karzai's 6 July speech in which he criticized comments Musharraf made about Afghanistan (see above), chanting, "Long live Afghanistan and Hamid Karzai," Balkh Radio reported on 8 July. (Amin Tarzi)
PAKISTAN CLOSES ITS EMBASSY IN KABUL FOLLOWING ATTACK.Approximately 2,000 protestors stormed the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul on 8 July, breaking into the compound and burning a Pakistani flag, Reuters reported. The attack came following a smaller march on the embassy on 7 July in which participants protested Pakistani forces' recent incursions inside Afghan territory, chanting "Death to Pakistan," according to the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) and Reuters on 7 July. Pakistani Ambassador to Afghanistan Mohmand said his government holds the "Afghan government squarely responsible for negligence and not only for negligence but for stage-managing this show, for creating an environment in which such an attack could take place, and then for their failure to act swiftly to prevent the damage." Mohmand said he closed the embassy and that Pakistan will not reopen its mission to Kabul "until Afghanistan [has] paid compensation for the damage, apologized, and [can] guarantee security." He added that he has spoken to Pakistani President Musharraf about the incident, which he termed "a big setback" to Afghan-Pakistani relations. The protests and reports of border incursions are reminiscent of the 1950s to 1970s, when Afghanistan and Pakistan were constantly at odds over their mutual border. (Amin Tarzi)
AFGHAN LEADER STRONGLY CONDEMNS ATTACK ON PAKISTANI EMBASSY...Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Karzai condemned the 8 July attack on the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul, saying that those who carried out this act are "not the enemies of Pakistan -- they are, in fact, the enemies of Afghanistan," Radio Afghanistan reported on 8 July. Karzai described the perpetrators of the attack, in which approximately 2,000 protestors stormed the embassy, broke into the compound, and burned a Pakistani flag, as "enemies of Afghan-Pakistani friendship [and] of the peace and prosperity of the Afghan people." Karzai said he "strongly, strongly, and strongly condemns such actions." (Amin Tarzi)
...AND OFFERS PERSONAL APOLOGY TO PAKISTAN'S PRESIDENT...Karzai spoke with Pakistani President Musharraf on 8 July for 25 minutes and personally apologized for the attack on the Pakistani Embassy, Pakistan's English-language daily "Dawn" reported on 9 July. He assured Musharraf that such incidents will not happen again. Karzai also expressed the value Afghanistan places on its relations with Pakistan, and said he ordered that immediate action be taken against those who carried out the attack and that some suspects have already been arrested. Karzai told a news conference in Kabul on 8 July he was awaiting an explanation from Musharraf regarding remarks Pakistan's leader made about Afghanistan during his recent tour of Europe (see above), but after the embassy attack he decided to call Musharraf himself to "apologize for the incident," Radio Afghanistan reported on 8 July. (Amin Tarzi)
...AND ASSURANCES TO PAKISTANI AMBASSADOR.Chairman Karzai met with Pakistani Ambassador to Afghanistan Rostam Shah Mohmand just hours after the embassy attack on 8 July, "Dawn" reported the next day. Mohmand said the Afghan leader "apologized for the incident" and offered to pay compensation for any damages as well as "full protection and guarantees against any future attacks." Mohmand, who closed the embassy following the attack and said it would not be reopened until Afghanistan paid for the damage, apologized, and guaranteed the security of the mission, said that "the assurance has come from the head of the state. Naturally, I am satisfied." Mohmand added that while the embassy is currently unusable, its staff is "not going to go anywhere" and will remain in Kabul. (Amin Tarzi)
AFGHAN LEADER MAINTAINS STANCE ON BORDER INCURSION.During his news conference following the 8 July attack on the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul, Chairman Karzai said in reference to reported incursions by Pakistani forces inside Afghanistan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 and 8 July 2003) that "the people of Afghanistan will defend their independence, territorial integrity, and their honor at the border," Radio Afghanistan reported. Without mentioning the Pakistani Embassy by name, Karzai said Afghans will also "defend their foreign guests and diplomats with dignity and honor in the capital of Kabul." According to Radio Afghanistan, Pakistan's government has confirmed that its military forces recently entered Afghan territory. Afghan government spokesman Ahmad Jawayd Lodin said on 7 July that unless Pakistan halts its operations inside Afghanistan, the Transitional Administration will strongly respond to the incursions. (Amin Tarzi)
FIGHTING IN ZABUL PROVINCE INTENSIFIES...Zabul Province Governor Hamidullah Tokhi said on 2 July that 700 of his troops are involved in an ongoing battle in Ata Ghar District with about 60 fighters loyal to the ousted Taliban regime, Reuters reported. "The Taliban have no chance, except dying or surrendering," he said, adding that he does not see "any chance" that the Taliban loyalists will surrender. Tokhi said the fighting at Ata Ghar, which was first reported on 1 July (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 3 July 2003), had been going on for four days as of 2 July. According to Mulla Abdul Rauf, a senior official during the Taliban's rule in Afghanistan, Hafiz Abdul Rahim, a senior commander loyal to the ousted regime, is leading the Taliban fighters whose number he estimated at 200, Reuters reported. While Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Karzai has stated that the Taliban are no longer a viable force, most Afghan officials in the southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan have continued to blame the Taliban for recent clashes (for more on the Taliban, see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 3 July 2003). (Amin Tarzi)
...AS A SENIOR TALIBAN COMMANDER, AFGHAN SOLDIERS ARE REPORTED KILLED.The chief of police of Zabul Province, who was not identified, said three Taliban fighters and six soldiers loyal to the Transitional Administration have been killed in the fighting in Ata Ghar District, Reuters reported on 2 July. Hindukosh news agency reported on 2 July that three "government soldiers" were killed, but did not mention any Taliban casualties. Earlier reports said one unidentified Taliban leader was killed, according to the Pakistan-based "Wahdat" on 30 June. "Wahdat" reported that 500 Taliban fighters are participating in the fighting in Zabul Province. (Amin Tarzi)
RENEWED FIGHTING BETWEEN AFGHAN WARLORDS CLAIMS MORE LIVES...At least 11 people have been killed in renewed factional fighting that erupted on 3 July in the Dara-ye Suf District of Samangan Province and the Sholgara District of Balkh Province between forces loyal to General Abdul Rashid Dostum, special adviser on security and military affairs to Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Karzai, and those of General Ata Mohammad, commander of Army Corps No. 7, "The New York Times" reported on 7 July. The warlords' forces clashed as approximately 50 British soldiers are preparing to establish a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Mazar-e Sharif, the capital of Balkh, the BBC commented on 6 July. Forces loyal to Ata Mohammad, who represents the Jamiat-e Islami party in northern Afghanistan, have battled sporadically over the past year with armed supporters of Dostum's Junbish-e Melli party. The two sides last fought on 27-28 June (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 23 May, 5 June, and 3 July 2003). (Amin Tarzi)
...AS UN NEGOTIATES CEASE-FIRE IN BALKH PROVINCE.The Multiparty Security Commission of the North accompanied by members of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has brokered a cease-fire in the fighting in Sholgara District, UNAMA spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva announced on 6 July. The peace delegation met with General Ata Mohammad and General Haji Habib of Junbish, who each gave "assurances that both sides would refrain from fighting in Sholgara," UNAMA reported. The situation in the area was described by the UN as "currently calm," but "tense and unpredictable." Dostum previously denied his men were involved in the fighting, calling it an internal dispute among militiamen loyal to Ata Mohammad, Reuters reported on 5 July. In May, Karzai appointed Dostum as his adviser and recalled him to Kabul, but Dostum ignored those orders and repositioned himself in his stronghold in Jowzjan Province. Karzai also ordered the dismantlement of Ata Mohammad's Army Corps No. 7, which Dostum was to help carry out (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 23 and 29 May 2003). (Amin Tarzi)
HEAD OF MOSQUE KILLED IN KANDAHAR.Mawlawi Hamdollah, the imam of the village of Nakodak in the Dand District of Kandahar Province, was killed on 2 July, Radio Afghanistan reported. Security officials in Kandahar said people near the mosque reported hearing three gunshots at the time of his killing. The officials believe people loyal to the ousted Taliban regime or to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the radical leader of Hizb-e Islami, are responsible for Hamdollah's death. The killing came just a day after a bomb blast injured 23 people at the Abd al-Rabb Akhond Mosque in Kandahar on 1 July (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 3 July 2003). (Amin Tarzi)
KABUL PAPER LAUDS ROLE OF RECONSTRUCTION TEAMS, BRITISH IN AFGHANISTAN."The Kabul Times" commented on 2 July that British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said during his two-day visit to Afghanistan (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 3 July 2003) that his country will facilitate Afghanistan's efforts to eliminate poppy cultivation and will lead one of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) that are to be established in Mazar-e Sharif, in Balkh Province. The paper said these pledges by Britain "add another challenging task" to the United Kingdom's commitment to Afghanistan, adding that that Straw's visit took place at a "time when the need for more security is becoming a growing concern in the country." The commentary recommended that the United Kingdom and the United States "and other friendly countries" expand the PRT initiative to other Afghan cities to help the central administration in Afghanistan maintain security until the Afghan National Army is fully developed. To date there are three U.S.-led PRTs operating in Afghanistan (for more on PRTs, see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 30 January 2003). (Amin Tarzi)
KABUL PAPER LAMENTS POSTPONEMENT OF DDR PLAN.In a commentary published on 6 July, "The Kabul Times" lamented the announcement that the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) plan scheduled to begin on 1 July has been postponed until the end of the month to allow the Defense Ministry to complete its reforms, which the government believes will make it more ethnically balanced, representative, and accountable. According to the commentary, the Transitional Administration wants to reform the Defense Ministry "to avoid favoring one faction over another." The paper warned the administration against trying to extend the postponement of the DDR program beyond the end of July, as otherwise the planned Constitutional Loya Jirga that is scheduled to take place in October could be "seriously threatened." Karzai has said he intends to reform the Defense Ministry, which is led by Defense Minister Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim, an ethnic Tajik, so Afghans will be confident that the future Afghan National Army represents the entire population (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 27 February and 26 June 2003). (Amin Tarzi)
NATO'S ADVANCE TEAM HEADS TO KABUL.The first troops of the NATO force that will take command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Kabul on 11 August flew to the Afghan capital on 5 July, the U.S. State Department announced on 6 July. NATO said in a statement on 4 July that the ISAF mission remains firmly committed to adhering to the UN Security Council resolutions and the Bonn Agreement that set the course for postwar Afghanistan, and that the mandate for the NATO force will remain the same, an apparent reference to the ISAF's area of responsibility that is currently limited to Kabul. The statement added that "NATO's increased involvement demonstrates its continuing long-term commitment to stability and security in Afghanistan through assistance to the Afghanistan Transitional Authority." General Jack Deverell, NATO's regional commander in chief of Allied Forces North Europe, will have operational command of the ISAF from his headquarters in Brunssum, the Netherlands, while German Lieutenant-General Goetz Gliemeroth will assume command of ISAF in Kabul (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 3 July 2003). (Amin Tarzi)
INTERNATIONAL PRESS CENTER OPENS IN KABUL.Transitional Administration Chairman Karzai on 6 July inaugurated the International Press Center (IPC) in Kabul, according to Afghan Deputy Information and Culture Minister Abdul Hamid Mobarez, Iranian state radio's Mashhad-based Dari service reported the next day. Mobarez said the IPC will be used as a venue for press conferences and other media activities. The IPC will be administered by a six-member board, two from the Afghan government, two independent Afghan journalists, and two representatives of foreign journalists working in Afghanistan, Radio Afghanistan reported on 7 July. (Amin Tarzi)
THIS WEEK IN AFGHANISTAN'S HISTORY10 July 1947 -- Afghanistan reiterates its views to Britain in a second note that the inhabitants of the region between the Afghan-Indian border and Indus River are Afghans and must decide themselves whether to join Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, or become independent.
6 July 1995 -- General Abdul Wali, son-in-law of the former king, Mohammad Zaher Shah, rejects the re-establishment of the monarchy in Afghanistan, but signals the readiness of the king to actively participate in the peace process.
4 July 1996 -- President Burhanuddin Rabbani approves Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's cabinet. Hekmatyar appoints Wahidullah Sabawoon defense minister and Yunos Qanuni as interior minister.
Sources: "Dictionary of Afghan Wars, Revolutions and Insurgencies" by Ludwig W. Adamec, (Lanham: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1996); AP; Voice of America.