PakistanThe news that Kabul had fallen to the Northern Alliance at
dawn Tuesday did not sit well with Haji Zaman Khan Ghum Shareek. As the
blitzkrieg from the north raced through Afghanistan, far ahead of the world's
diplomacy, it did not sit very well at all.
Haji Zaman is a Pashtun. His people have traditionally ruled in Afghanistan,
dominated life here in the Afghan city of exile and reigned throughout the
surrounding tribal areas of Pakistan. The Northern Alliance's men are Tajiks
Once they all were Afghans. Not now.
Mr. Haji Zaman and 23 fellow Pashtun commanders of past battles for
Afghanistan met Tuesday in Peshawar to decide on a course of action. They sent
an envoy to meet Kabir Hanif, the Taliban's commander in Jalalabad, two hours
over the Khyber Pass in Afghanistan.
They said they had sought American weapons and money from the United States
but had received nothing.
They will decide on a course of action soon. If history is a guide, they will
fight. And they will fight against the Northern Alliance.
"We had an agreement with the Northern Alliance," Mr. Haji Zaman
said Tuesday, choosing his words carefully. "We don't accept a regime in
Kabul that rules by force. But now that Northern Alliance has done this, they
should be ready for punishment.
"And as for the Taliban," he said, "if they are peaceful and
not with the terrorists, we will accept them."
The Taliban's leaders are Pashtuns, too.
"We have had discussions with the Taliban," he continued. "Some
of their leaders and soldiers have contacted us - a lot of people inside the
Taliban are in contact with us. We have no enmity with them or with the
Pakistanis or the Arabs who were fighting inside Afghanistan with them. If
they are our prisoners, we'd say please leave us, go back, or we would turn
them over to the United Nations."
The Northern Alliance on Tuesday killed prisoners that it identified as
Afghanistan was not always so deeply divided. Any visitor to the Kabul of old
would have been struck by its ethnic and racial diversity. People with
differing colors of eyes and skin and hair made it seem a crossroads of the
Then came the Soviet invasion of 1979, and a generation of war in which Afghan
fought Afghan. Loyalties and betrayals often broke along ethnic and tribal
"I am against the Northern Alliance, being a Pashtun," said
Muhktarullah, a banker in Peshawar who uses only one name, as he watched the
fall of Kabul on television.
"The Taliban of course had their own ideas-they don't represent Pashtuns.
But if the Northern Alliance are in power, that is bad for us," he said.
This kind of thinking grieves Gul Rahman Qazi, a Pashtun, a prominent lawyer,
professor and political adviser in Kabul for many years, and now like so many
Afghans an exile in Peshawar.
"Now is the time to think about how to rebuild the country, to create a
stable system, to escape the misery that 22 years of fighting have brought.
"This is not the time to think of ethnicity," he said. "This is
the time to think as Afghans."