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Musharraf Concerned About War's Progress Pakistani President
Fears 'Anarchy and Atrocity'
If Taliban Fall

ISLAMABAD, Oct 26 (NNI): Pakistan’s military president said today that a "political strategy" for Afghanistan was urgently needed to prevent "anarchy and atrocity" if the country’s Islamic Taliban movement falls to U.S.-led military attacks.
While saying Pakistan will "go along" with the military campaign "until its objectives are achieved," Gen. Pervez Musharraf made clear that he was concerned about the ever-lengthening time frame of the attacks, and about the chaos and bloodshed that could follow if no cohesive political force was ready to take over.
"We are part of the coalition, and we will go along until the objectives are achieved," Musharraf told about a dozen foreign journalists in his office. He said he has not "set any limits" on Pakistan’s cooperation, but that "military action must be brought to an end as soon as possible."
If the campaign is "unable to achieve its military goals in a certain time, we need to switch to a political strategy," he said Musharraf's comments came as U.S. officials are acknowledging how difficult it will be to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, the Saudi terrorist suspect who is a prime target of the military bombing, and that the Taliban is proving to be a surprisingly stubborn military adversary that may take months to defeat.
Public opinion in Pakistan has been increasingly critical of the bombings, which have reportedly killed several hundred civilians without resulting in the death, capture or defection of any Taliban leaders. Radical Islamic groups in Pakistan have held numerous anti-U.S. protests and vowed to send fighters to support the Taliban.
Musharraf's remarks also coincided with a series of disappointments in efforts by Afghan political leaders, Pakistani agencies and international forces to cobble together a broad-based future government for Afghanistan, whose recent history has been plagued by bloody feuds among political, religious and ethnic factions backed by various countries.
This week, an assembly of 1,200 Afghan leaders in the Pakistani city of Peshawar called on the Taliban to relinquish power and urged that a grand assembly to be held to establish a broad-based interim government, with help from the former Afghan king. The group said it feared "bloodshed and disorder" would reign if any one group came to power through military force.
But the meeting, held by the Assembly for Peace and National Unity of Afghanistan, was marred by the absence or opposition of key political actors.
It was snubbed by former king Mohammed Zahir Shah, who lives in Rome, and it did not include representatives of either the domestic anti-Taliban insurgency or of purported moderates within the Taliban.In his comments today, Musharraf said it was essential for any future Afghan government to be "home-grown," and that it should be "not imposed, only facilitated" by foreign governments such as Pakistan and the United States.
Musharraf, who appeared relaxed but serious during his 90-minute meeting with the foreign journalists, insisted that the Peshawar meeting had been a "definite success" and a "good beginning" to the process of establishing a broad-based government. He seemed genuinely surprised at suggestions to the contrary, saying, "I need more information on that."
Musharraf repeated and elaborated on comments he made last week during the visit of Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, when both officials agreed that elements within the Taliban should be part of any future Afghan government.
"We cannot ignore reality," he said. "If we want to bring peace and unity, all sections of society must be represented, and the Taliban happen to be one important section at the moment."
Musharraf also said the Taliban had been initially accepted by the Afghan people, especially its ethnic Pashtun majority, and that "chaos and anarchy" could return to Afghanistan if minority rule was imposed by force. -- NNI

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