Kabul waits for peacekeepers
Monday, 17 December, 2001, 22:21 GMT BBC News
Kabul celebrated its first post-Taleban Eid on Sunday
By the BBC's Caroline Wyatt
Even while the hunt for Osama Bin Laden continues, preparations are under way for the new broad-based interim administration to take office on 22 December.
And there are also intensive discussions over the deployment of an international security force which is due to arrive at around the same time.
What sort of reception will the international force get?
Kabul celebrated the festival of Eid on Sunday for the first time since the defeat of the Taleban.
The sheer number of weapons on the streets here is frightening.
There is no real government to disarm these freelance fighters.
This is the environment in which British soldiers could soon be placed, a country where it is hard to tell friend from foe.
General McColl expects a difficult mission
Major General John McColl has been in Kabul assessing the situation and preparing the ground for the international security force, which Britain is expected to lead.
"It's an immensely complicated task and I do not underestimate the level of difficulty in such a deployment by air over such long distances," he said.
"I'm very encouraged by what I've seen in peaceful Kabul, but I would stress that at this stage no firm decisions have been made."
The man tasked with steering Afghanistan through this crucial phase is Hamid Karzai, a Pashtun leader whose interim government takes power on Saturday.
His three key ministers, all from the Northern Alliance, are sceptical about the need for foreign soldiers.
'Need for security'
Mr Karzai has been trying to convince them those forces are essential.
"We have lost institutions, we have no police force, we have no regular standing army and for the security of Kabul and other major cities in Afghanistan we need some sort of a police force," he said.
Mr Karzai would welcome peacekeepers
"Until we get that we will need help from the international community, for the stability of Afghanistan. The United Nations forces, that kind of force is good."
Praying with Mr Karzai at the Presidential Mosque was the leader of the Islamic Unity Party.
Abdul Rubra Sun Sayaf says Northern Alliance troops should first be given a chance to prove they can keep the peace.
"If they don't have trust in these troops they can change them. They can bring troops from various provinces and several tribes after that," he said
"If they felt that there is need for other troops they can ask the United Nations. This is a logical route for them," he added.
Plea for intervention
But ordinary people in Kabul, spending Eid celebrating with their relatives, disagree.
The Kazim family speak for many when they say Afghanistan cannot be left to go it alone at this delicate stage.
Nadema, a mother of five, remembers the last time Northern Alliance troops were here and in-fighting shattered her city.
Some - but not all - women have removed veils since the Taleban defeat
"We want to have international soldiers and this time we will be safe and peace will come in Afghanistan," she said.
Nadema is still too scared to venture outside her home without her burqa.
The streets, she says, still are not safe.
Her husband, Mohammed, is also keen to see a British-led force here as soon as possible.
He and many others believe that force must be sent quickly to stop the fragile peace here descending into chaos and anarchy.
"I believe that it's very necessary. If there will not be international security forces here in Afghanistan, I am not very optimistic for the future of my country," he said.
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