Zahir Shah camp in disarray
Aditya Sinha - Hindustan Times (Peshawar, October 21)
Though U.S. military operations have moved into a new phase, the attempts to organise a political alternative to the Taliban have not kept pace, leading to "differences and disorganisation" in former Afghan king Zahir Shah's camp. "Political activities are lagging far behind the military operations," says Siddiqullah Mojaddedi, son of former President Sibghatullah Mojaddedi.
This would be music to the Pakistan government's ears. The ISI wants the so-called 'moderate Taliban' in the saddle in Kabul, though publicly Islamabad pays lip service to the US plan of installing Zahir Shah after
the Taliban are 'taken out'.
The plan is that once Kabul is taken, an interim government headed by Zahir Shah will take over, under the auspices of the UN and the OIC. He would then call a loya jirga, the traditional national assembly, to frame a Constitution and hold elections.
Zahir Shah seems to be unprepared. Siddiqullah says his father visited Rome and found the former king's advisors disorganised.
As unprepared as the king's men is spiritual leader Pir Syed Ahmed Gilani, who had called a convention in Peshawar inviting Shah's representatives, the Northern Alliance, and 'Taliban elements'. The meeting was postponed due to lack of groundwork.
Gilani is now suspect among many Afghans for advocating the inclusion of the Taliban. "The attempts to include any Taliban in the interim government are stupid," says Aziz, an aid worker. "There is no such thing as a moderate Taliban." It is even conjectured that Gilani has gone to Rome with a Pakistani brief.
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