Northern Alliance will not tolerate Pakistani 'interference' in Afghanistan, says diplomat

War on terrorism: The future
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The Independent Online

The Northern Alliance bitterly accused Pakistan of fomenting the Afghan civil war and insisted that General Pervez Musharraf's regime could have no say in the future of the country.

The vehement opposition of the Northern Alliance to Pakistan is a major problem for the US and British governments, which have always said that Islamabad must play a part in deciding on the make-up of the next Afghan government.

The Bush administration has also proposed a mainly Muslim "peacekeeping" force from countries such as Turkey, Indonesia and Bangladesh to which Pakistan would like to contribute, but the Northern Alliance said this would lead to another war.

As 2,500 of their "policemen" enforced control over Kabul, Alliance officials declared that they held the capital, and were in effect the government until a new one was formed. They also stated their intention to march on the Taliban's ethnic Pashtun heartland in the south.

One of the Alliance's most senior diplomats, Wali Masood, the Afghan ambassador in London and the brother of the assassinated leader Ahmed Shah Masood, warned that captured Pakistani and other foreigners fighting with the Taliban risked getting killed.

He said: "Mainly, they are being killed by Afghan people because of the terrible things they had done in our country. But they can also get killed by our own fighters because they sometimes lose control."

Representatives of the exiled Afghan king, Zahir Shah, yesterday accused the Northern Alliance of reneging on a deal to stay out of Kabul. But Mr Masood, who is expected to return to Afghanistan to represent the Northern Alliance in a future government, maintained that security officials had gone into the capital to keep order. He added that the King would be welcomed back to take part in a Shura, a grand council, where an administration could be formed by consensus.

But Mr Masood was adamant that the Northern Alliance would not tolerate Pakistani interference in Afghanistan, or the involvement of any parties backed by the Pakistanis.

He said: "The Pakistani government and its secret service, ISI [InterServices Intelligence], has been responsible for what has happened to Afghanistan by backing international terrorism of Osama bin Laden and the tyranny of the Taliban. They have also sent thousands of Pakistani militia into our country, and replaced them at regular intervals.

"They are the enemy. How can they have a say in how Afghanistan is governed in the future. It is is like the Soviet Union saying that they wanted to have a say in running Afghanistan after they had been forced to end their occupation."

Mr Masood was speaking at the Afghan embassy in London, in reality that of the Northern Alliance, which has suddenly become the focus of media and diplomatic interest.

Sitting beside a photograph of his dead brother, who has become an icon for the Alliance in their victorious campaign, Mr Masood claimed the Pakistanis were complicit in the murder.

He said: "The ISI had a part in that assassination, they have a record of organising terrorism inside Afghanistan.

"The Pakistanis have got to accept that and they have got to admit just how wrong their policy had been in Afghanistan," he said.

"Instead General Musharraf continues to try and divide us with his talk of moderate Taliban and extreme Taliban, of Pashtun and non-Pashtun. But we must not let outsiders divide us again."

Mr Masood said he believed that Mr bin Laden would be captured or killed "very soon" if he stayed in Afghanistan.

He added: "Time has run out for him in our country. But I would not be surprised if he is across the border in Pakistan in the house of some ISI officer."