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Pakistan Appeals for Reconciliation in Afghanistan - 2001-10-01

Pakistan's president says he believes the ruling Taleban will not remain in power in Afghanistan for long, and that there will be a military strike against alleged terrorist targets inside Afghanistan. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry on Monday appealed for national reconciliation in Afghanistan.

In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation scheduled for broadcast on Tuesday, Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, said it appears that the Taleban's days in power are nearly over.

General Musharraf says he believes the United States will launch a military strike against terrorist targets inside Afghanistan. He says Pakistan has told this to the Taleban.

On Sunday, General Musharraf said hopes that the Taleban would surrender alleged terrorist Osama Bin Laden were "very dim." The United States has demanded the Taleban hand over Osama bin Laden, who Washington believes is behind last month's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

The statements came as the Taleban supreme leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, blamed the terrorist attacks in the United States on unspecified U.S. policies, and said if American troops should try to overthrow the Taleban, they will face what he described as a "long guerrilla war." In his statement, broadcast on the Taleban Radio Shariat, Mullah Omar also warned Afghanistan's ex-King Zahir Shah not to meddle in Afghan affairs.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Riaz Mohammed Khan, on Monday appealed for national reconciliation in Afghanistan. "Pakistan would like to see national reconciliation," he said. "Pakistan would like to see that the conflict in that country comes to an end. Pakistan would like to see peace and stability in Afghanistan. It is not just in the interests of the Afghan people, but it is also in the interests of Pakistan and of the region."

Mr. Khan says despite the apparent worsening situation, Islamabad has no intention of breaking relations with the Taleban. He says Islamabad will continue to pursue "whatever possibilities exist for a diplomatic solution to the crisis."