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Talks ease threat of Afghan attack

April 20, 1992

Article from: Chicago Sun-Times
Article date: April 20, 1992
Author: Guy Dinmore

KABUL The Afghan government, with power rapidly slipping from its grasp, held peace talks Sunday with the leader of guerrilla forces massed outside Kabul, and a spokesman said government officials believed the capital would not be attacked.

Foreign Minister Abdul Wakil did not rule out the possibility that the Mujaheddin guerrillas would form the next government, the first such concession by Kabul in the 14-year civil war.
Wakil was speaking at a news conference after a second session of talks with Mujaheddin commander Ahmed Shah Masoud, who has emerged after a string of victories as Afghanistan’s most powerful man.

“In the past, we did not contemplate the formation of a Mujaheddin government,” Wakil said. “Now it is on the agenda and it is not far from possibility and reality that it could happen.”

Masoud’s forces, backed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, were poised about 40 miles north of the Afghan capital. But Wakil said, “I fully believe that the forces of brother Ahmed Shah Masoud’s will by no means attack Kabul.”

Masoud, who fiercely resisted occupying Soviet troops in the 1980s, said Saturday that he had forged an alliance, the Islamic Jihad Council, with three powerful military figures who had defected with their troops and armor from the government.

“Now, I think a Mujaheddin government should come to power,” said Masoud, whose alliance already controls most of northern Afghanistan and Kabul’s airport.

Government television reported Sunday that the eastern city of Gardez was no longer fully under Kabul’s control after the local garrison commander struck an alliance with the Mujaheddin leader in the region, Jalaluddin Haggani.

Herat, a major city on the western border with Iran, came under Mujaheddin control Friday.

In a further tightening of the noose, the Mujaheddin news agency, Midia, reported from Pakistan that Jalalabad, the eastern gateway to Kabul, also had fallen. There was no immediate confirmation in Kabul.

Diplomats said that after 14 years of war and the loss of 1 million lives it appeared that the Mujaheddin, or at least a major part of their disparate forces, could take control of Kabul within days.

The diplomats said four years of effort by United Nations special envoy Benon Sevan to implement a peace plan appeared to be in vain.

But Wakil said he had discussed two possibilities with Masoud: a UN plan under which a neutral 15-man council would be set up and the formation of a Mujaheddin-led government.

Wakil has assumed a prominent role since President Najibullah, a Soviet protege installed six years ago, was overthrown by his own government Thursday.

Najibullah, widely hated for his past as chief of the secret police, was stopped at Kabul airport from leaving the country and has taken refuge in UN offices in Kabul.

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