Afghan Parties Form Government-in-Exile

THE formation of an Afghan government-in-exile, after weeks of delay and disagreement, lends the disparate resistance movement a semblance of unity and provides a rallying point for 5 million Afghans and the patchwork of guerrilla commanders inside Afghanistan. The new government, whose leaders were named late last week, is a last-ditch attempt by the Peshawar-based Afghan politicians to retain a role in post-Soviet Afghanistan, according to diplomatic, resistance, and international aid sources.

``We have to wait and see whether this government will have any real power, and whether it can really do what needs to be done,'' says a guerrilla representative here. ``The leaders have disappointed us too many times in the past,'' he adds, referring to the bickering among parties during their decade-long war against Soviet forces and the Soviet-backed Kabul regime.

Many Afghans criticize the nominating council and the new ``government'' for not reflecting the diversity and various viewpoints within the resistance. Many snowbound northern and western provinces were unable to send delegates to the council, which first convened Feb. 10 under Pakistani pressure. In addition, the new government does not include the country's Shiite Muslim minority. The parties also lack a coherent policy to deal with captured areas and material. As a result, government offices have been trashed, state farms looted and destroyed, and the spoils of war divided among the fighters.

The new government is to operate until elections can be held in six months. It is headed by a so-called moderate, Sibghatullah Mojaddidi, as president. ``Fundamentalist'' Abdul Rasul Sayyaf was named prime minister. Other positions and ministries were handed out to leaders of the other five Peshawar-based parties. It is not clear how the parties will organize an election among Afghans both inside the country and in refugee camps, particularly if fighting continues.

Mr. Mojaddidi has called upon the international community to recognize his government, adding that it intends to move into Afghanistan within a month. The United States has said it will only recognize the government once it shows substantial control of territory, broad grassroots support, and a functioning civil administration.

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