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Northern Alliance:  No Coalition Government with Taleban - 2001-10-17

The Afghan opposition Northern Alliance says it will reject any coalition government that includes the Taleban.

Northern Alliance foreign minister, Abdullah Abdullah, says he agrees with the U.S. position that any new government must include all ethnic groups in Afghanistan. He says the alliance, also known as the United Front, does not wish to impose itself on the people, without a mandate.

But Mr. Abdullah says the alliance will not support any attempt to include the Taleban in future negotiations.

"With the Taleban, no," he said. "I think it is against the objective of the ongoing attempts by the international alliance to include terrorist groups or those who harbor terrorism or those who have comforted terrorism for so many years, in the future government of Afghanistan."

The Northern Alliance, a loose anti-Taleban coalition, is made up largely of Tajik, Uzbek and other ethnic minorities. It does not represent the largest segment of the Afghanistan population, the Pashtuns. The Taleban is largely Pashtun.

Mr. Abdullah also hinted that the Northern Alliance is wary of Pakistan's role in discussions about formation of a new, post-Taleban government. Although Pakistan's president Pervez Musshaaraf pledged his full support in the international effort to topple the Taleban, Mr. Musharraf has also been treading carefully in to avoid inflaming Pakistan's own sizeable Pashtun population, many of whom support the Taleban.

Mr. Abdullah says he hopes that Pakistan will respect self-determination efforts in Afghanistan and not interfere in its political process.