Pakistan, Turkey could give troops to Kabul peace mission

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) -- Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, called for a U.N. peacekeeping mission made up of Muslim nations to deploy in Kabul and said Tuesday that Turkey and Pakistan could contribute.

"Kabul should remain as a demilitarized city, this is the cause of the atrocities of the past and they must not be repeated," Musharraf said in Istanbul, hours after Afghan opposition forces seized the capital from the Taliban.

"It is very important that there ought to be a United Nations force ... composed of OIC countries," Musharraf said, referring to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which groups Muslim nations.

Speaking at a press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, Musharraf said Turkey and Pakistan could contribute to such a force.

"Turkey could play a role and also other Muslim countries, and maybe also Pakistan," he said.

Musharraf said peacekeepers should control the capital until a multi-ethnic government can be installed.

Pakistan does not want to see the opposition alliance -- with which it has long had hostile relations -- holding power in neighboring Afghanistan and fears an alliance takeover there could spark bloody factional fighting.

"In the past there has been fighting among these ethnic groups. Pakistan and Turkey must do what they can to prevent this," Musharraf said.

The alliance is made up largely of ethnic minorities -- particularly Tajiks and Uzbeks -- while the Taliban, who have ruled most of Afghanistan since 1996, are dominated by ethnic Pashtuns, the country's largest ethnic group.

Musharraf said Pashtuns must be included in any government formula. "Pashtun representation is important," he said.

Taliban forces fled Kabul toward the south after a series of lightning victories by the opposition alliance in the north. Opposition fighters entered the capital Tuesday.

Representatives of the alliance and Afghanistan's exiled former king have said they would meet in Ankara to discuss the formation of a broad-based government. There has been no time set for the meeting.

The meeting would be a crucial step in fulfilling an Oct.1 agreement between exiled King Mohammad Zaher Shah and the northern alliance on forming a transitional, post-Taliban government. The 87-year-old king has lived in Rome since his 1973 ouster in a palace coup.

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