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Taliban resurface in new political party

Taliban resurface in new political party

Author: Jack Redden
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: December 10, 2001

Islamabad, December 9: Several officials of the defeated Taliban, including their envoy to the United Nations, surfaced on Sunday to announce the formation of a new political party to help bring peace to Afghanistan.

Although the Khudamul Furqan Jamiat (KFJ) - Servants Society of Furqan (Koran) - is headed by Amad Amin Mujadidi, a spiritual figure widely respected in Afghanistan, all six of the other party officials at the news conference here had previously held posts with the Taliban.

''There is no doubt the doors of this political party are open for all those members of the Taliban movement and all those followers who are inside or outside of the party,'' Mujadidi said.

Mujadidi's answers in Pashto were translated into English by Abdul-Hakim Mujahid, who had been the Taliban representative at the UN. Others at the meeting had posts such as deputy ministers.

Mujahid had been under US pressure to cease all diplomatic activities before the September 11 attacks on Washington and New York made his continued presence impossible and he returned to Pakistan where he had a house.

Mujadidi noted that most of the Taliban officials around him had also served in the earlier governments of Burhanuddin Rabbani, head of the Northern Alliance that defeated the Taliban over the last month. He said 80 per cent of the Taliban had roots in earlier incarnations of the KFJ and added that other officials of the Taliban were in contact with his party.

But Mujadidi and others at the news conference would not say whether they thought Taliban leader Mullah Omar was a criminal although he was no longer the ''emir'' since the movement did not exist. Mujadidi was among the religious leaders who told the Taliban to ask Osama bin Laden to leave Afghanistan.

The party officials were vague on why they had not split with the hardline Islamic movement earlier, criticising its failure to take advice on bin Laden but saying it had produced positive results in securing internal peace in Afghanistan and eliminating most opium poppy production.

Mujadidi said his party would cooperate with the new interim government headed by Hamid Karzai, who had called him from Afghanistan, despite describing the country as returning to the lawless state that existed before the Taliban came to power.

''There is chaos and anarchy in the country but Karzai, if he collects several political parties and ethnic groups and gets the advice of those personalities, we hope that he will overcome the problem in the future,'' Mujadidi said.

But he criticised the Bonn conference that led to Karzai's selection as leader, saying the minority ethnic groups of the victorious Northern Alliance were over-represented in the new administration.

''The UN must not repeat the mistake it made in the Bonn conference by ignoring significant tribes and political parties and bestowing a great portion of slots on the minority group of the country,'' said a formal statement from the party.

The KFJ focus appears to be on gaining influence through the future selection of an interim government to rule for two years that is supposed to be agreed at a Loya Jirga - an Assembly of Afghan elders - in six months. ''The KFJ declares its support to the UN process of Loya Jirga provided it is impartial and inclusive in its efforts in holding the Grand Council,'' the party said.

''The KFJ is determined to save the nation and the country from the current crisis by rendering all kinds of sacrifices and spending all its means and resources in this regard,'' it said. (Reuters)

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