U.S. Wary on Iran-Afghan Tensions
Tuesday, September 8, 1998; 7:46 p.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The State Department expressed serious concern Tuesday about tensions between Iran and Afghanistan and urged both sides to exercise restraint.
Spokesman James P. Rubin said significant numbers of Iranian troops who were dispatched to the border with Afghanistan have concluded their exercises but nonetheless remain deployed in that area.
The United States supports a U.N. Security Council resolution that calls for all Iranians held in Afghanistan to be allowed safe passage out of the country and for outside parties not to interfere in Afghanistan's internal affairs, he said.
Rubin said the United States has been unable to confirm reports that several Iranians, including diplomatic staff at an Iranian consulate, have been missing since Taliban fighters captured that city and may have been killed. The Taliban in the dominant political force in Afghanistan.
The holding of diplomats is a violation of international law, he noted.
Rubin said the use of force could aggravate existing instability in Afghanistan, a country ``where the status quo is extremely dangerous,'' as shown by its refusal to rein in terrorists including reputed Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden.
United States warns Iran not to invade Afghanistan
Tue 08 Sep 98 - 21:23 GMT
WASHINGTON, Sept 8 (AFP) - The United States on Tuesday warned Iran not to attack Afghanistan, urging both nations to resolve tensions by engaging in dialogue about the disappearance of Iranian nationals in Afghanistan.
Iran has accused the fundamentalist Taliban militia that controls most of Afghanistan's territory of abducting 10 Iranian diplomats, and one journalist, and holding them hostage since August 7.
That Iran has "deployed significant numbers of troops and equipment" along its border with Afghanistan is "a matter of serious concern," said US State Department spokesman James Rubin.
"We are watching closely. We are urging restraint by all sides," said Rubin. "Afghanistan's neighbors must respect its borders and refrain from interfering in its internal affairs," he said.
Careful to specify that he was not confirming the Iranian allegations of abduction, Rubin also stated that "holding diplomats is unacceptable" and -- if they have been detained -- Iranian diplomats must be freed.
He would not comment on whether, or how, the United States had communicated its position to Iran; the two countries have had no official, diplomatic relations for 20 years.
Rubin noted that Iranian officials have declared publicly that Teheran has no intention of invading its neighbor.
But Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi announced Tuesday that Iran considers "all options open" for winning the liberation of its nationals and diplomats.
Iran has accused the Taliban of capturing dozens of Iranian nationals, including 10 diplomats and one journalist, during an August offensive against opposing forces in the North of Afghanistan.
United States Has Cautioned Iran Against Taking Action Against Afghanistan
INTRO: THE UNITED STATES HAS CAUTIONED IRAN AGAINST TAKING ACTION AGAINST AFGHANISTAN. THE STATEMENT CAME AS THOUSAND OF IRANIAN TROOPS REMAIN NEAR THE AFGHANISTAN BORDER FOLLOWING WAR GAMES. CORRESPONDENT GIL BUTLER HAS MORE FROM THE STATE DEPARTMENT.
TEXT: IRAN ANNOUNCED THE END OF ITS MILITARY MANEUVERS NEAR AFGHANISTAN ON MONDAY, BUT SAID SOME 70-THOUSAND TROOPS WILL REMAIN IN THE AREA. IRAN SAYS TALEBAN FORCES ABDUCTED ELEVEN IRANIAN DIPLOMATS AND AN IRANIAN JOURNALIST AFTER OVERRUNNING MAZAR-I-SHARIF, AN AFGHAN OPPOSITION STRONGHOLD LAST MONTH. THE TALEBAN HAS DENIED HAVING THE DIPLOMATS AND SAYS THEY MAY BE DEAD.
AT THE STATE DEPARTMENT, SPOKESMAN JAMES RUBIN NOTED THE IRANIAN TROOP DEPLOYMENT AND CALLED IT A MATTER OF SERIOUS CONCERN WHICH IS BEING WATCHED CLOSELY. HE URGED RESTRAINT BY ALL SIDES OF THE DISPUTE.
/// RUBIN ACT ///
WE WANT AFGHANISTAN'S NEIGHBORS TO REFRAIN FROM TAKING ACTIONS THAT COULD FURTHER ENLARGE OR INFLAME THE CONFLICT, AND OBVIOUSLY TO RESPECT ITS INTERNATIONAL BORDERS. WE ARE AWARE AND HAVE SPOKEN TO THIS. THERE ARE REPORTS THAT SEVERAL IRANIANS, INCLUDING DIPLOMATIC STAFF AT THE CONSULATE IN MAZIR I SHARIF HAVE BEEN MISSING SINCE THE TALEBAN CAPTURED THAT CITY AND MAY HAVE BEEN KILLED. WE CANNOT CONFIRM THESE REPORTS AND WE REMIND THE AFGHAN FACTIONS THAT THE HOLDING OF DIPLOMATS FOR ANY REASON AND AT ANY TIME IS UNACCEPTABLE, GIVEN THEIR PROTECTED STATUS UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW. SO WE CERTAINLY UNDERSTAND THE CONCERNS ABOUT THIS REPORTED HOLDING OF DIPLOMATS.
/// END ACT ///
MR. RUBIN ADDED THAT THE UNITED STATES WANTS TO MAKE CLEAR THAT IT DOES NOT SUPPORT INTERFERENCE IN THE INTERNAL AFFAIRS OF AFGHANISTAN.(SIGNED)
08-Sep-98 5:25 PM EDT (2125 UTC) NNNN
Source: Voice of America .
Taliban say any Afghan-Iran war will only benefit enemies of Islam
Tue 08 Sep 98 - 08:00 GMT
KABUL, Sept 8 (AFP) - The Taliban said Tuesday that any military confrontation between Afghanistan and Iran would only benefit the enemies of Islam, as border tensions gripped the two Moslem countries.
"Iran should not act as a tool in the hands of the enemies of Islam and should stop its undue military warnings and threats," Mawlawi Noor Mohammad Saqeb, Taliban Chief Justice, was quoted as saying.
He urged Iran to use common sense and shun the military option if it considers itself a Moslem country, the religious militia's Radio Shariat reported.
The consequences of any attempt to invade Afghanistan would be undesirable for Iran as the "battle-hardened Afghans know how to defend their country," he said.
In a separate commentary Radio Shariat, which reflects the Taliban official policy line, accused Iran of seeking to reinstate the former Afghan government of ousted president Burhanuddin Rabbani through recent military manoeuvres.
Iran sent tens of thousands of Revolutionary Guards to the west and southwest borders of Afghanistan following the disappearance of 10 Iranian diplomats and one journalist after the Taliban captured the northern Afghan opposition stronghold of Mazar-i-Sharif on August 8.
"Under the name of military exercises, they have deployed 70,000 troops along the borders to supposedly frighten the Afghan nation," the radio added.
But it said Iran had miscalculated since Afghanistan nation had always defeated invaders, from the British empire to the Soviet Union.
Shiite Moslem Iran also accuses the hardline Sunni Taliban of holding a further 37 Iranians since Mazar-i-Sharif fell.
The Afghan militia acknowledged holding some Iranian truck drivers. Five were released Thursday as a goodwill gesture.
Tehran has attempted to pressure the Taliban authorities to determine the fate of the missing diplomats. Authorities here say they might have been killed.
Public opinion favours Afghan refugees repatriation
By GULZAR JALAL YOUSAFZAI
Peshawar - This would be the first step, if taken by the present government for the betterment of the people of this province to repatriate the Afghan refugees. This fact surfaced during a survey conducted by the FP after the news appearing in a section of the press that the provincial government had decided to repatriate the Afghan refugees. People belonging to various walks of life said that unemployment, hunger and frustration had deteriorated their living conditions. They wanted to earn a morsel for themselves and their children. However, due to the presence of the Afghan refugees, they were unable to do so as all jobs ranging from the daily wages to lucrative businesses were dominated by the refugees. "Economy is considered the blood-stream of a state. In the wake of nuclear tests and the ensuing economic sanctions, every business is affected and even the white-collar people are living from hand to mouth.
In such circumstances, the process of the repatriation of the refugees will be a welcome approach if implemented by the government" remarked one of the shop keepers in Qissa Khani Bazar. "We have been hearing these rumors for a long time, from that moment when the former president Najib Ullah was removed, but nothing happened", commented one of the businessmen in the cantonment area. "Refugees are everywhere, but a question arises as to why they are given a free hand on the soil of another country", he posed a question. " You can not call them refugees now. They own properties here, constructed huge buildings, deal in other businesses like the local people, and even contract relationship with the Pakistanis," explained one of the shop keepers in Karim Pura Bazar. "They have purchased the agencies of prominent show companies and deal in cloth business. I think it will be difficult for the administration to handle this matter in a peaceful way. "They have laid the roots very firmly and to root them out will be almost impossible," he said. "Due to lack of education, majority of the refugees is uncivilized.
Though, as we say, in both the countries the Pakhtuns have the same culture, there are differences in their cultures and civilizations. Due to their uncivilized behavior, they have earned a lot of resentment from the local people, " stated one of the well known writers when the question was put before "I do not see any logic behind the fact that they are not returning to their home land. They should settle their disputes there," said a school teacher while commenting on the question of sending the refugees back. They have contacts in every office of the government like the registration office, the pass port office, the excise and taxation offices and the customs offices. So the government should consider the problems seriously, remarked one of the government servants. "In the wake of the Taliban victory and the imposition of Islamic Shariah there, now the echoes are heard here in our country and some of the people are demanding a Taliban like government based on Islamic Shariah. It is the same situation as was faced by England after the French Revolution 1789," stated one of the university professor. The consequences of the presence of refugees would be very dire, he feared, saying that now the time was ripe to do something for solving the problem.
Taliban Gives bin Laden Refuge
By Kathy Gannon
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, September 8, 1998; 2:58 p.m. EDT
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Osama bin Laden, enemy No. 1 in the United States, has a home in Afghanistan as long as he wants it -- even if his presence invites another barrage of U.S. Tomahawk missiles.
A top Taliban official, Abdul Sattar Paktis, strokes his gray-streaked beard and speaks of the man accused of masterminding bombings at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania as an old friend and honored guest.
``Let me tell you something about Osama, he didn't just come to Afghanistan. He has been here for the past 14 years off and on,'' Paktis, the Taliban's protocol officer, said in an interview Monday with The Associated Press in Kabul's war-damaged foreign ministry.
``He is our guest and we will never force him out,'' he said.
The United States fired Tomahawk cruise missiles into Afghanistan and Sudan in retaliation for the Aug. 7 embassy bombings, which killed 258 people and wounded thousands. In Afghanistan, two alleged terrorist training camps were hit Aug. 20, including one believed to have been operated by bin Laden. He was not harmed in the attack.
Bin Laden's threats against Americans and U.S. interests worldwide have turned American embassies and consulates in several countries, including neighboring Pakistan, into virtual fortresses.
Bin Laden, probably in his 40s, is the son of a Saudi construction magnate. Shortly after Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan in December 1979, he joined the Afghan struggle against Moscow, gaining a reputation for bravery and determination. He is estimated to have spent more than $200 million to recruit and equip thousands of Muslim fighters.
His hatred of America seems to stem from outrage about America's warm relations with Israel, and fury over the 500,000 U.S. troops deployed in his homeland of Saudi Arabia in 1990 and 1991 to help drive Iraqi troops out of Kuwait. He considered that a desecration of his native soil.
Afghanistan's ruling Taliban religious army, already a virtual pariah in the world because of its radical interpretation of Islam, says it doesn't share bin Laden's burning hatred of the United States.
``We want very much to have very close relations with the international community,'' Paktis said. ``We never expected this of the United States because of our very long friendship with them against the Russians.''
The Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan for 10 years before being forced out by U.S.-backed insurgents.
The Taliban, he added, do not share bin Laden's goal of toppling Muslim governments is such places as Egypt and Saudi Arabia to replace them with radical Islamic regimes.
``The Taliban authorities assure the world that it would never interfere in other countries,'' Paktis said.
A week before the U.S. missile attack on Afghanistan, Paktis said bin Laden gave a written guarantee ``not to be involved in any way with international terrorism from Afghanistan'' to the Taliban's reclusive leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, Paktis said.
Afghanistan owes a debt to bin Laden, said Sher Mohammed Stanikzai, deputy health minister.
``I remember every year Osama was coming here for two or three months and he himself, a rich man, taking a Kalashnikov in his hands and fighting against the Russians,'' said Stanikzai.
``We don't forget this. He defeated, along with us, our enemy,'' he said. ``Now, he has an enemy. We will not turn him over.''
Paktis said the Taliban is firm in its intent to protect bin Laden: ``He is our guest and we will not hand over a guest to his enemies. This is our Afghan culture.''
Paktis dismissed accusations that bin Laden has used his vast wealth to buy safety in Afghanistan.
``What do we need with his money? He is just one man, we are a government,'' he said. ``His money can't buy us unity or security.''
Although bin Laden is well known by governments around the world, most Afghans were just learning his name after the U.S. attack.
``Who is this bin Laden? He should leave our ruins. We already have so many problems,'' said Bibi Jan, trying to squeeze onto a crowded women's-only bus in Kabul, where Taliban rulers forbid women mingling with men.
HIA asks Taliban to release Iranian diplomats
Monday, 07-Sep-1998 21:19:37 PDT
ISLAMABAD: Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) has asked the Taliban to take immediate steps for the release Iranian diplomats to avoid any possible impeding crisis.
A high level meeting of Hizb-e-Islami held in Peshawar expressed grave concern over the growing tension between Iran and Taliban over missing diplomats and stressed that the issue must be solved through negotiation and meaningful diplomatic channels, a HIA statement said.
The meeting reviewed Afghanistan's political and military situation and showed serious concern over the continuation of fighting, ethnic killings in northern Afghanistan and military exercises near Afghan border and termed them as a potential threat to the security of Afghanistan.
The Hizb leaders asked Taliban leaders and external forces to desist from such actions, which could lead to armed conflict between Afghanistan and neighboring countries.
The meeting described as baseless and fabricated press reports that Hizb-e-Islami forces have joined Iranian troops for attack on Afghanistan. "Those who are spreading such news are enemy of Islam and Afghans. Some circles are trying to indulge Afghanistan and Iran in military confrontation but we believe that war will not serve the interests of any country but of the inimical forces" the meeting noted.
Hizb-e-Islami called for halt to hostilities, end to foreign intervention and establishment of a broad-based government in Afghanistan.--NNI
UN in talks on status of Iranians who disappeared in Afghanistan
Tue 08 Sep 98 - 19:47 GMT
UNITED NATIONS, Sept 8 (AFP) - UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has engaged in discussions regarding the status of Iranians who disappeared in Afghanistan, a UN spokesman said Tuesday.
"There are some discussions underway on a means to investigate the whereabouts or fate of the 10 Iranian nationals and one journalist who disappeared," spokesman Fred Eckhard said.
Iran has accused the fundamentalist Taliban militia controlling most of Afghanistan of abducting 10 Iranian diplomats and one journalist on August 7, in the Afghan city of Masar-I-Sharif, and holding them hostage.
The Taliban has denied the charge.
Tension escalated between Iran and Afghanistan with the deployment of 70,000 Iranian troops for military exercises along the Iran-Afghan border.
UN chief Annan "had some contacts over the weekend" and "is prepared to assist in some ways," said Eckhard.
The nature of the secretary general's contacts was not disclosed, but Eckhard said they were with "Iran, Pakistan and others about ways to sort this out."
UN probes fate of missing Iranians in Afghanistan
01:42 p.m Sep 08, 1998 Eastern
UNITED NATIONS, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Secretary-General Kofi Annan is trying to determine the fate of 12 Iranians reported missing in Afghanistan since early August, a U.N. spokesman said on Tuesday.
Iran said 11 of its diplomats and a news agency correspondent went missing after the Taleban militia seized its consulate-general in the opposition stronghold town of Mazar-i-Sharif last month.
``There are some discussions under way now of a means to investigate the whereabouts or the fate of the ... Iranian nationals ... who disappeared in Mazar-i-Sharif,'' U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters.
Annan was ``speaking to Iran, Pakistan and others about ways to sort this out,'' he added.
Pakistan is one of a small number of countries that recognise the Islamist Taleban government, which now controls most of Afghanistan.
Iran staged military manoeuvres by some 70,000 Revolutionary Guards near Afghanistan's border last week, and senior Iranian military officials said the location of the annual exercises was meant to send a signal to the Taleban.
The troops remained near the border after the exercises ended, causing concern that Iran was preparing to attack.
Tehran says all options available to liberate its diplomats
Tue 08 Sep 98 - 17:11 GMT
TEHRAN, Sept 8 (AFP) - Iran on Tuesday again warned the fundamentalist Taliban militia controlling most of Afghanistan that it will keep all options open in its effort to retrieve the 10 diplomats it says the Taliban are holding hostage.
"All options are available and open to us," said Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi at a press conference.
He called on the Taliban to "respond favourably" to Tehran's demands to release the men and "resolve the problem in a positive manner by releasing the diplomats and the other detained Iranians."
Tehran accuses the Taliban, which toppled the Kabul regime and now controls almost all of Afghanistan, of holding 10 Iranian diplomats and a journalist from Iran's state news agency hostage since the Sunni Moslem militia captured the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif on August 8.
The Taliban have repeatedly denied holding the men and have suggested that they may have been killed.
Shiite Moslem Iran has appealed to the United Nations, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia for help in retrieving the men.
It has also massed some 70,000 troops along the Afghan border as tensions have mounted in recent days between the Islamic neighbours.
The Taliban said Tuesday that any military confrontation between the two nations would only benefit the enemies of Islam.
"Iran should not act as a tool in the hands of the enemies of Islam and should stop its undue military warnings and threats," Mawlawi Noor Mohammad Saqeb, Taliban chief justice, was quoted as saying.
The consequences of any attempt to invade Afghanistan would be undesirable for Iran as the "battle-hardened Afghans know how to defend their country," he said.
Qazi for peaceful settlement of Iran-Taliban row
Monday, 07-Sep-1998 21:19:56 PDT
ISLAMABAD: Amir Jamaat-e-Islami Qazi Hussain has urged Iran and Afghanistan to avoid war for the sake of upholding Islam and supremacy of Muslims in the region.
In an interview with BBC, he asked Iran and Pakistan to refrain from their efforts for the establishment of governments of their choice in Afghanistan which would help restoring brotherly relations between them.
Qazi said that Iran and Pakistan should adopt their previous policies in connection with Afghanistan.
Responding to a question about Iran's plans of attack on Taliban over the killing of its diplomats, he said, Iran and Afghanistan need to sort out the issue by mutual consultations. "They should investigate the matter as what has been done with them and where they are and that who is responsible," he said.
Qazi said that war is not the right solution to teach lesson to those responsible for this. Observing Islam and its traditions, they would easily find a solution to this. "Iran and Afghanistan should try to observe Islamic brotherhood and avoid any untoward situation. This is the best way that they should resolve their differences in brotherly atmosphere," Qazi said.
Talking about the effects of war between the two countries, Qazi Hussain Ahmad said, "if war broke between the two then there would be no end to it."
"This is wrong to say that a country having large quantity of arms will resolve the issues by invading the other. Problems could not be resolved through sheer use of force. A clear example for this is that former Soviet Union was a big power but when it entered Afghanistan with tanks and heavy ammunition, its way out was difficult and ended in disintegration," he said.-NNI
UN Says Some Of Its Staff Members
Could Return To Afghanistan By Mid-October
INTRO: THE UNITED NATIONS SAYS SOME OF ITS STAFF MEMBERS COULD RETURN TO AFGHANISTAN BY MID-OCTOBER IF NEGOTIATIONS UNDERWAY WITH THE FUNDAMENTALIST TALEBAN RULERS PROVIDE SECURITY GUARANTEES. AS LISA SCHLEIN REPORTS FROM GENEVA, THE UNITED NATIONS AND PRIVATE AID AGENCIES PULLED OUT OF AFGHANISTAN THREE WEEKS AGO BECAUSE OF CONCERNS FOR SAFETY.
TEXT: NONE OF THE U-N'S INTERNATIONAL STAFF REMAINS IN THE COUNTRY. BUT THE U-N COORDINATOR FOR AFGHANISTAN, ALFREDO WITSCHI-CESTARI, SAYS THE UNITED NATIONS HAS NOT SUSPENDED ITS HUMANITARIAN PROGRAMS. HE SAYS AFGHAN NATIONALS ARE CONTINUING TO PROVIDE ASSISTANCE TO HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF NEEDY PEOPLE.
NEVERTHELESS, HE SAYS THE ABSENCE OF U-N EXPERTS AND PRIVATE AID AGENCIES IS A SERIOUS SET BACK. MR. WITSCHI-CESTARI SAYS THE UNITED NATIONS IS PARTICULARLY WORRIED ABOUT THE SITUATION IN THE CAPITAL, KABUL, WHERE HE SAYS MOST OF THE PEOPLE ARE DEPENDENT ON PRIVATE NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS, N-G-O'S, FOR FOOD AND HEALTH CARE.
/// WITSCHI-CESTARI ACT ///
THE ABSENCE OF THE N-G-O'S FROM KABUL MAKES IT VERY DIFFICULT FOR US TO ENVISAGE THE WINTER WHEN TIME WILL COME FOR MANY PEOPLE TO REQUIRE ATTENTION. SO, WE ARE WORRIED ABOUT IT AND WE WILL ADDRESS THIS ISSUE IN THE COMING WEEKS TO TRY TO FIND WAYS TO GUARANTEE THE FUNDING FOR THESE N-G-O'S AND FOR THEM TO RETURN SHOULD WE BE ABLE TO NEGOTIATE WITH THE TALEBAN.
/// END ACT ///
THE U-N COORDINATOR SAYS THERE ALSO ARE PROBLEMS IN OTHER REGIONS OF AFGHANISTAN.
HE SAYS A PROGRAM TO ENSURE SUFFICIENT FOOD THROUGHOUT WINTER IN THE HAZARAJAT REGION OF CENTRAL AFGHANISTAN IS UNDER THREAT. HE SAYS REHABILITATION PROJECTS IN EARTHQUAKE STRICKEN AREAS OF NORTHEASTERN AFGHANISTAN ARE STALLED. AND HE SAYS THE UNITED NATIONS IS CONCERNED ABOUT THE SITUATION IN CONFLICT-RIDDEN NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN WHERE THERE ARE NO U-N WORKERS.
/// 2ND WITSCHI-CESTARI ACT ///
AND OUR NATIONAL STAFF ARE TOTALLY DEPENDENT ON THE EVOLUTION OF THE DAY-TO-DAY SITUATION IN ORDER TO MOVE AROUND. THEY ARE NOT ATTENDING THEIR OFFICES. THEY ARE STAYING PUT AT HOME. AS YOU KNOW, ALL OUR RADIO EQUIPMENT, SATELLITE, TELEPHONE, WHATEVER WE HAD IN MAZAR HAS BEEN TAKEN AWAY FROM US. AND, WE HAVE NO MORE DIRECT LINK WITH OUR NATIONAL COLLEAGUES IN NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN.
/// END ACT ///
MR. WITSCHI-CESTARI SAYS THE ISSUE OF WOMEN REMAINS ONE OF THE KEY PROBLEMS TO BE RESOLVED BEFORE THE UNITED NATIONS WILL RETURN TO AFGHANISTAN. HE SAYS THE TALEBAN HAS DENIED THE UNITED NATIONS ACCESS TO WOMEN. AND HE SAYS THIS HAS HAD FEARFUL CONSEQUENCES FOR THEIR HEALTH AND GENERAL WELL-BEING. (SIGNED)
08-Sep-98 10:23 AM EDT (1423 UTC) NNNN
Source: Voice of America .
A mad escalation
Frontier Post: Editorial
The Taliban have warned of a regional conflict in case Iran attacked Afghanistan. In what seems a dramatic upping of the ante, the militia says if Iran turned its huge military build-up into an invasion, it would cause a regional 'fireball'. Giving a scary dimension to the ongoing tension between Tehran and Kabul, a Taliban spokesman at the United Nations said on Sunday: 'I would not be surprised if some of the most deadly weapons, which have never been used in that area, would be used, which would surely involve the interests of the western world.' There is no doubt that the weapons that the Taliban spokesman has in mind are none other than the nuclear weapons. The question is, whose bombs is he talking about? Is he referring to the nuclear weapons that Islamabad has in the basement? Who has given him the authority to drag Pakistan into what seems, at least on the surface, a Tehran-Kabul standoff. We understand that the Taliban are matching Iran's harsh language. But this does not mean that they should speak in apocalyptic terms. Iran is a Muslim country; its weakening is not in the interest of the Muslim world.
The West would be too happy to see the Taliban fight against Iran, for it abhors the guts of both sides. Washington is watching the fast-deteriorating situation along the Iran-Afghan border with tremendous interest. It has apparently expressed its concern over the concentration of Iranian forces along the Afghan border. Pakistan is caught in the cross-fire. It is supportive of the Taliban, but it cannot af