Taleban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar has marked the fifth anniversary of the Taleban's capture of Kabul, by warning Afghans not to try and seize power with the help of the United States. Meanwhile, Pakistan's government says it has no opposition to a planned trip to Afghanistan by several Pakistani religious leaders who say they want to try and persuade the Taleban to hold talks with the United States.
Government supporters in Islamabad and around the country held rallies Thursday to support a decision by Pakistan President, General Pervez Musharraf to support the U.S. led effort to strike at alleged terrorist Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaida organization. U.S. officials say the group was behind the attacks that killed more than 6,000 people in the United States.
Opponents of President's Musharraf's policy say they plan to hold protests on Friday just as they did last week, when four demonstrators died in the southern port city of Karachi.
A group of Pakistani religious leaders who support Taleban policies say they plan to travel to Kandahar, Afghanistan either Friday or Saturday to meet with Taleban leaders. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Riaz Mohammed Khan told reporters on Thursday, Islamabad welcomes any effort aimed at helping Taleban leaders understand what the international community is demanding from them.
"I am not aware of any meeting any particular delegation had [with the President] who may be intending to go to Kandahar," Mr. Khan said. "We are not aware of any meeting they had with the President. But if any prominent personalities or an ulema wishes to play a role to sensitize further the Taleban government towards what the international community is expecting from them that would be a welcome role from our point of view that would be a positive role from our point of view."
The religious leaders say they will try and persuade the Taleban to hold direct or indirect talks with the United States. U.S. officials say now is the time for action, not talks, and the demand to surrender Osama Bin Laden and members of his al-Qaida organization is not negotiable.
The Taleban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar on Thursday warned Afghans that if they try and seize power with the help of the United States they would be treated in the same way as Afghans who collaborated with the Soviet Union. His comments came five years to the day that the Taleban seized Kabul and executed the former Soviet-installed President Najibullah.
Mullah Omar also called on Afghans not to flee their homes out of fear of a potential military attack. U.N. and Pakistani officials have warned that more than one million people might flee Afghanistan if such an attack takes place.