The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW

Military



DATE=1/3/2000 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=TALEBAN RELATIONS NUMBER=5-45164 BYLINE=SCOTT ANGER DATELINE=ISLAMBAD CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Afghanistan's Taleban movement is viewed as a pariah by much of the world. It has been accused of human-rights abuses and supporting terrorism. As a result of the Taleban refusal to hand over suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden, the United States and the United Nations have levied economic, political and aviation sanctions against the hard-line movement. But as V-O-A's Scott Anger reports, observers say the manner in which the Taleban handled the hijacking of an Indian airliner last week has improved their image with the world community. TEXT: Minutes after the hijacked Indian airliner touched down in the Taleban stronghold of Kandahar, the hard-line Islamic movement was thrust into the world spotlight. There is widespread agreement officials there handled the situation well. Taleban authorities helped facilitate negotiations between the hijackers, the United Nations and India. Although Afghanistan is a poor, war-ravaged country, the Taleban also provided food and medicine to the 155-passengers held hostage aboard the plane. Before the hijacking began, India had been openly hostile toward the Taleban and has refused to recognize it as the government of Afghanistan. But after he escorted the freed hostages home, Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh praised the Taleban at a crowded news conference in New Delhi. /// SINGH ACT /// I would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation and gratitude to the Taleban and the authorities in Afghanistan for the cooperation all along during this trying period. /// END ACT /// Kamal Matin-uddin, author of the book, "The Taleban Phenomenon," thinks the Taleban handled the hijacking very well. He says they deserve the praise of not only the Indians, but the entire world. /// MATIN-UDDIN ACT /// They have always been labeled as illiterate, intolerant and unable to deal with international behavior. In this particular case, they have done exceedingly well. They have managed a very volatile situation which could have lead to a lot of blood- shed, but the manner in which they conducted themselves and mediated between the Indians and the hijackers, resulted in the freeing of all the passengers. /// END ACT /// The Taleban has been under intense pressure from western governments - especially the United States. Osama bin Laden, a Saudi-born militant who is wanted by the U-S for his role in the bombings of two American embassies in Africa in 1998, is living in Afghanistan. The Taleban has refused to hand him over because - it says - there is not enough evidence to prove he played a role in the attacks. In November, the United Nations imposed U-S backed financial and aviation sanctions against the Taleban for its refusal to help bring Mr. bin Laden to trial. The Taleban maintains the Saudi militant is a guest in Afghanistan and therefore, cannot be handed over. During the hijacking crisis, diplomats from France, Australia, Italy, Belgium, and Switzerland remained in Kandahar to look after their citizens who had been aboard the plane. Editor Talat Hussain, of Pakistan's leading English- language daily newspaper, says the crisis has given western countries a chance to deal directly with the Taleban. /// HUSSAIN ACT TWO /// The bewilderment one shares when one looks at the outcome of this crisis is caused by the fact that the world had been looking at the Taleban through the prism and through the perspective of whatever the Americans had been telling them. But minus that perspective, minus that prism, the world interacted with the Taleban and discovered that these people are not all that abnormal after all. /// END ACT /// The Taleban first emerged on the Afghan scene in Kandahar in 1994. Most of its members received religious schooling in neighboring Pakistan and southern Afghanistan during the last years of the Soviet occupation of the country. Many had been refugees from the war. In less than two-years after its creation the Taleban swept north through Afghanistan, capturing 80-percent of the country, including the capital Kabul in September 1996. It continues to fight a strong opposition force that controls about 10-percent of northern Afghanistan. The Taleban has enforced a strict version of Islamic law on the country. In the first two-years of its dominance, women had been prevented from attending schools or working outside the home. Men have been forced to grow beards and pray five times a day. Photography of living things, including animals, has also been banned. These harsh policies, along with the accusations of their support of terrorism, have prevented the Taleban from gaining international recognition. But Mr. Matin-uddin says the Taleban have eased some of their restrictions, even allowing international film crews to photograph Taleban soldiers and officials during the hijacking standoff. He says the movement is making progress. /// MATIN-UDDIN ACT TWO /// I think that there has been a gradual change in them (Taleban) as far as their interpretation of Islamic tenets. They have allowed schools to open for girls in Kabul. Now they have allowed themselves to be filmed and they have been talking to foreigners and have allowed foreigners to come into their country. There is definitely a change in their attitude towards the rest of the world, and I think if they gradually move in this direction, they may take part in he mainstream (of the world). /// END ACT /// A U-N official who oversaw negotiations between the parties during the hijacking, Erick de Mul, says the role the Taleban played in the crisis will enhance the hard-line Islamic movement's image. (SIGNED) NEB/SA/RAE 03-Jan-2000 09:08 AM EDT (03-Jan-2000 1408 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list