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Pakistan Endorses Broad-Based Afghan Government - 2001-11-19

Pakistan is urging rival Afghan factions to take advantage of an historic opportunity to bring peace to their country and pursue United Nations efforts to establish a broad-based government in the war-ravaged country.

The United Nations is trying to promote the formation of a broad-based government in Afghanistan now that the Taleban has lost control of most areas. Neighboring Pakistan's Foreign Minister Abdus Sattar is urging Afghan factions not to miss the opportunity. "All of our Afghan brothers should think of the future of their country and not resort to actions that promote their selfish interests at the expense of the unity and integrity of their state," he said. "After long years of internal strife, Afghanistan is at a historical moment at which it can once again achieve unity and receive largess from the world community to reconstruct itself."

Mr. Sattar says if Afghans miss this opportunity, the international community will walk away from the problem as it did 12 years ago because of the infighting among Afghan factions.

Opposition Afghan groups accuse Pakistan of creating and supporting the Taleban movement, which collapsed after heavy U.S. bombing and ground attacks by rival Afghan forces, including the Northern Alliance.

But since the September Terrorist attacks that killed 5,000 people in the United States, Pakistan has expressed support for the U.S. anti-terror campaign and limited its contacts with the Taleban.

Some Afghan opposition leaders like Hamid Karzai say they welcome this change in Pakistan's policy. "The position that the government of Pakistan has towards Afghanistan now is no longer supportive of the Taleban, which is seeking a more national form a government in Afghanistan, which is something that we support," he said. "Also that is the best guarantee to all our neighbors of a government that will be friendly to all and keep the interests of our neighbors in mind."

Pakistan Foreign Minister Abdus Sattar said Monday his country no longer maintains relations with the Taleban but will not expel its ambassador for the time being. "We have not yet announced the de-recognition of the Taleban government," he said. "[But] that does not mean we continue to recognize it. Quite clearly the Taleban government has collapsed."

Pakistan called its own diplomats back from Afghanistan following the terror attacks in the United States, but continues to have contact with the Taleban. the Taleban ambassador to Islamabad returned to Pakistan Sunday following a trip to Kandahar.