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UN Approves Blueprint for a Post-Taliban Government

The UN is in the forefront of shaping Afghanistan’s political future. A provisional government set up by it would have greater global legitimacy than one imposed by Washington alone.

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Unanimous vote at the UN Security Council

The U.N. Security Council has approved the blueprint for a post-Taliban government submitted by its envoy to Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi.

The council adopted a resolution by a 15-0 vote. It lays down that any new Afghan government should be broad-based and multi-ethnic, respect human rights of all people regardless of gender or religion and combat terrorism and illicit drug trafficking.

The UN envoy Brahimi who is responsible for organizing a government, faces a daunting task.

He has to contend with the rivalry between the Pashtuns who dominate the south of the country and make up most Taliban supporters, and the Northern Alliance, composed largely of ethnic Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaara.

The first step is to organize an all-Afghan meeting among the country's many factions and ethnic groups.

But Brahimi made clear that the United Nations would not "parachute in" officials to set up a protectorate as in East Timor or Kosovo. But rather they would ask Afghans, whether at home, in exile, or in refugee camps in Pakistan and Iran, to take the lead.

The first meeting of all factions should discuss steps to convene a provisional council, one that was a fair representation of all Afghan groups, he said.

The meeting should be chaired by "an individual recognized as a symbol of national unity", he said. It was an obvious reference to Afghanistan's 87-year-old exiled king, Mohammad Zahir Shah, who lives in Rome.

The provisional council would plan a transitional administration that would run the country for up to two years.

At the same time, an emergency Loya Jirga, or grand assembly of tribal elders, would convene to approve security arrangements and help write a constitution. A second Loya Jirga would approve the constitution to create a government for Afghanistan, Brahimi said.

Brahimi was realistic about putting all the proposals into practice. The proposed instituion "will not include everyone who should be there and it may include some whose credentials many in Afghanistan may have doubt about," he said.

International security force

Brahimi has also proposed an international security force to guard major cities, especially Kabul the capital.

But some provisions in the resolution led to some doubt. For example one that "encourages" countries to "ensure the safety and security of areas of Afghanistan no longer under Taliban control."

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said this referred to the United States and Britain, which have forces in Afghanistan, as well as nations prepared "to help ensure security in that country, especially the capital of Kabul."

But British, French and Russian ambassadors said the resolution did not authorize a follow-on peacekeeping force. A new measure would be needed for that purpose.

British and American troops already in the area would be reinforced with troops from other countries. Such an international security force though not organized by the United Nations would have to be approved by it.

France has offered to contribute such a force, which would also help guard humanitarian workers.

Other nations being considered are Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Turkey, Bangladesh and Jordan.

War isn't over

Though the Taliban has been crushed in several cities by Northern Alliance forces and U.S. warplanes, the Pentagon has warned that the war in Afghanistan was far from over and America was prepared to fight a guerrilla conflict there if necessary.

Anti-Taliban Northern Alliance troops are reported to have notched up further victories south of the captured capital of Kabul and Pashtun rebels are fighting to capture the key Kandahar airport to the south.

The opposition Northern Alliance has allayed fears that they plan to consolidate their hold on Kabul.

They’re reported to have said to have no desire to cling to power but would govern the capital until a broad-based post-Taliban government was formed.

Former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was driven out of Afghanistan by the Taliban in 1966 is planning to return to Kabul.

"We will embark as soon as we return to our country on two missions: The first to end any presence of the Al Qaeda network and Taliban military bases, and the second to form a government in which all factions participate except Taliban," he was reported to have quoted.

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