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What is Afghanistan's future?

Discussion / Activity

October 17, 2001 Posted: 4:37 PM EDT (2037 GMT)
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(CNN) -- As U.S. forces continue to hit targets in Afghanistan, some are looking at what kind of government could exist if the Taliban leadership falls.

European Union foreign ministers have been drawing up a blueprint for a "significant" U.N. role in building a post-Taliban Afghanistan. The EU is pushing for U.N. involvement in reshaping Afghanistan after the current military campaign against the Taliban regime is concluded.

"The United Nations is going to play a crucial role. They are the only ones that can guide" Afghanistan's transition, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer told the Associated Press.

Former king spells out plan

For more on this story, watch the October 18 'CNN NEWSROOM,' 4:30 a.m. EST on CNN U.S.  
Afghanistan's civil war 
Key Players: Balance of power in Afghanistan  
Timeline: History of Afghanistan 
Backgrounder: Afghanistan, Pakistan, bin Laden 
EU calls for U.N. role in Afghanistan 

The former king of Afghanistan is actively working to create a provisional government that will step in should the ruling Taliban be ousted from power, an envoy to the king tells CNN.

"In order to avoid any possibility of a void or a vacuum, we want to decide on establishing a supreme council which will provisionally take over if there is a need for it," Hadayat Amin Arsala, envoy to 86-year-old former King Mohammed Zahir Shah, told CNN.

Arsala is in Islamabad to discuss Zahir Shah's proposals with the Pakistani leadership and U.S. officials.

Former king Zahir Shah has been living in Italy since a 1973 coup ousted him from Kabul, and he has said he has no plans to return to power.

Instead, the king hopes to convene an emergency grand assembly, or 'Loya Jirga,' made up primarily of tribal elders drawn from Afghanistan's many and varied ethnic groups.

The Taliban is a fundamentalist Islamic militia that seized control of war-torn Afghanistan in 1996. Only three countries, including Pakistan, recognize the Taliban as the country's rightful government. The group controls more than 90 percent of the country.

The Northern Alliance, a loose network of ethnic minorities, has been fighting for the last five years to topple the Taliban. However, it is feared that because they represent mainly northern ethnic groups, there could be ethnic fighting if they come to power.

For years the U.N. has attempted to get Afghan opposition groups to consider a broad-based multi-ethnic government. Kofi Annan this month appointed Lakhdar Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister, as the chief U.N. envoy for Afghanistan.

U.S. and U.N. officials said Brahimi will be in Washington Friday for talks with administration officials to lay out his "game plan" for working with the various Afghan groups. These officials say Brahimi would be encouraging them to settle long-held disputes in order to come up with a formula for a new government.

A new government in Afghanistan was high on the agenda for Secretary of State Colin Powell's recently completed visit with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

Powell said he appointed Richard Haas, his director of policy planning for the State Department, as his personal representative to deal with the international community on a post-Taliban Afghanistan.

U.S. administration officials told CNN the configuration of the government would likely be 50 seats for the Northern Alliance, 50 seats for the king and his followers and 20 for the other groups. One official said "about 50" Afghans who are negotiating the future government want to be the next president of a post-Taliban Afghanistan.

-- CNN State Department Producer Elise Labott contributed to this report.

Weekly Activities:
Updated September 21, 2002

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