SLUG: 2-281037 Afghan / U-S (L Update)
TITLE=ATTACKS / AFGHAN / U-S (L-UPDATE)
/// EDS: COMBINES 2-281029 EARLIER WITH INFO ON REFUGEES, AND PAKISTAN'S REFUSAL TO TAKE PART IN ANY MILITARY ACTION IN AFGHANISTAN. ///
INTRO: In Afghanistan's capital, thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest possible U-S military strikes against the Taleban. As Ayaz
Gul reports, neighboring Pakistan says it will keep its border with
Afghanistan closed to refugees, despite the flood of people trying to escape Afghan cities.
TEXT: The demonstrators threw stones and ripped the U-S symbol from the
abandoned U-S embassy, setting fire to several vehicles at the compound.
Taleban militiamen later brought the fires under control. The U-S Embassy
has been abandoned for years -- well before the Taleban took control of
Kabul in 1996.
Wednesday's demonstration was the biggest show of anti-American anger in
Kabul since the United States demanded the Taleban turn over Osama bin
Laden - the chief suspect in U-S terror attacks that killed more than
six-thousand people. Taleban leaders have refused to hand over Mr. Bin
Laden, saying he is innocent of the terrorism charges.
Meanwhile, fighting in northern Afghanistan has intensified since the
United States began beefing up its military forces in the region for
possible retaliation against terror suspects. Members of the ruling Taleban
movement say its forces have retaken a key northern district that it lost
to the opposition Northern Alliance earlier this week. It is difficult to
confirm the details of the fighting because of a lack of independent
observers in the region.
Anti-Taleban forces have offered to help the United States if it
decides to take military action against alleged terrorist targets in Afghanistan.
Fears of a possible U-S attack have forced tens of thousands of Afghans from their homes to try to avoid being caught in the military action. The United Nations says nearly one million Afghans could arrive in neighboring
Pakistan, which is refusing to open its border for the time being.
Abbas Sarfaraz is Pakistan's Minister's for Refugee Affairs.
At this point in time, given the situation that we have, there is no plan
to open the border. However, if there is situation whereby within
Afghanistan the situation becomes untenable, by that I mean if there is an
attack on Afghanistan, then purely for the sake of humanitarian reasons, we
would contemplate that.
Pakistani officials have asked the international community for 122-million
dollars in aid to handle any refugee crisis. Pakistan has emerged as the
key player in the U-S led anti-terrorism efforts because it is the only
country that has diplomatic ties with the Taleban movement. But a
spokesman for Pakistan's Foreign Ministry, Riaz Mohammad Khan, reiterated Wednesday his country will not join any military action against Afghanistan.
Pakistan cannot and can never join any hostile action against Afghanistan
or against the people of Afghanistan. It is the fight against terrorism in
which Pakistan is part of the international community. And we want the
Afghan government (the Taleban) also be responsive to what the
international community is asking them to do.
Pakistan has promised "full support for the U-S campaign to get alleged
terrorist mastermind, Osama bin Laden, who lives in Afghanistan under
Taleban protection. Pakistani leaders say they have no plans to cut
diplomatic ties with the Taleban as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab
Emirates have done. They say keeping a dialogue open with the Islamic
movement could help avert a military confrontation. (SIGNED)
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