Afghanistan: The Forgotten Crisis- Update March - November
|Author||Barnett R. Rubin|
|Publication Date||1 December 1996|
|Cite as||WRITENET, Afghanistan: The Forgotten Crisis- Update March - November, 1 December 1996, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a6b94.html [accessed 26 November 2015]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
1. SUMMARY OVERVIEW OF NEW DEVELOPMENTS
The capture of Kabul by the forces of the largely Pashtun Taliban movement, on 26 September 1996, quickly realigned political forces within Afghanistan and the region. The Taliban's repressive policies attracted international media attention for the first time, now that they were carried out in the capital city. The UN agencies and humanitarian organizations faced new challenges, as the Taliban's ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam, especially as regards women, now was broadcast to the entire world. Rather than working quietly to pressure the authorities as they had in Qandahar and Herat, the agencies took a more principled and public stand. The Taliban's policies played a role in preventing states from recognizing them as the new government of Afghanistan, despite their control of the capital and most of the country's territory and population.
Within Afghanistan the non-Pashtun forces allied again as in the Northern Alliance of 1992. This time, however, after the defeat of the Tajik military leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Alliance was clearly under the leadership of the Uzbek general Abdul Rashid Dostum. Dostum did not recognize B.Rabbani as President of Afghanistan, though he accommodated him and Massoud in an alliance together with the Shia Hizb-i Wahdat, led by Abdul Karim Khalili. The country was effectively partitioned between areas controlled by Pashtun and non-Pashtun forces.
The regional context became even more polarized. The advance of this militant Islamic force aided by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia alarmed Russia, Central Asia, and Iran, each of them for somewhat different reasons. Some in the former Soviet republics feared that the Taliban might sweep north of Kabul, intensifying the civil war in Tajikistan and threatening the former Soviet border, now the CIS security border. Iran saw this extremist Sunni force as both excluding the Shia in Afghanistan from power and, more importantly, as being part of a U.S. strategy to encircle and contain Iran. Not only Iran, but many others in the region, continue to believe that the U.S. is allied with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in this effort, as in the aid to the mujahedin during the pre-1992 war. The State Department steadfastly denies these charges both publicly and privately.
The regional dimension of the problem clearly is one of vital importance. The independence of Central Asia and the opening of its borders had created a system of states that had never existed before. The emergence of ethnically defined sovereign Central Asian states has strengthened ethnic identities in Afghanistan. Competition over control of trade and pipeline routes from Central Asia has also transformed the relations between Iran and Pakistan. At the same time, the UN has begun to deal more systematically with the regional dimension of the problem by convening a meeting of all states concerned with Afghanistan on 18 November 1996.
The fighting and shifts in political control led to new population movements. Some observers estimated that as many as 250,000 residents of Kabul fled the Taliban, some attempting to go to Pakistan as in the past, but an increasing number fleeing northward. In November, as fighting between Dostum's forces and the Taliban intensified in Northwest Afghanistan along the front line near Herat, relief workers estimated that 50,000 people fled from the area, some of them crossing the border into Turkmenistan and thus creating a new refugee population, while others were displaced within the impoverished and isolated region of Northwest Afghanistan itself. This displacement led to ethnic separation, with Pashtun nomads fled to Taliban-controlled Herat, and others fleeing in the opposite direction, including a movement of Afghan Turkmen to Turkmenistan. In at least one case, Taliban fighters systematically burned a Tajik village north of Kabul that had been used as a base by fighters allied with Massoud, displacing all of its residents. About half of the village had previously been destroyed by Soviet forces.
2. TALIBAN CAPTURE OF KABUL
By the spring of 1996, the Rabbani government controlled at most a quarter of Afghanistan's territory. The Taliban held sway over Qandahar, Herat, and most of the eastern Pashtun areas. Jalalabad and the other northern Pashtun areas remained non-aligned, as did Dostum's areas in the north and the Shia (Hazara) areas in the centre. In May Rabbani and Massoud scored a symbolic political success, when Gulbuddin Hikmatyar agreed to join their government as Prime Minister and brought some of his few remaining troops to Kabul to join in the fight against the Taliban.
As Prime Minister, Hikmatyar immediately attacked Afghanistan's most pressing problem by issuing new regulations about proper dress for women. This decree was criticized by Massoud, on the grounds that the Prime Minister had not consulted with the government. Tragicomic as it may seem for the alleged leader of a country whose capital city has been demolished by rockets (largely his own), and which has the lowest literacy rate and the highest rates of both infant and maternal mortality in the world, to focus his energy on women's clothes, this incident illustrates the importance of control over women as a highly charged symbol of political and social legitimacy in Afghanistan, a symbol that assumed new importance with the capture of Kabul by the Taliban.
This change, however, like so many events in Afghanistan, largely reflected political alignments in Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto's government, under the leadership of Interior Minister Naseerullah Babar, had shifted its support from Hikmatyar (mediated by the political party, Jamaat-i Islami) to the Taliban, mediated by the party Jamiat-ul-Ulema-i Islam (Fazlur Rahman group) as described in the initial essay. The Jamaat, aided by former Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate chief (and Babar rival) Hamid Gul, sponsored the reconciliation of Rabbani and Hikmatyar. The result, however, mainly showed the weakness of Hizb. The realignment, which reunited all the surviving original leaders of the Islamist movement from Kabul University, had little effect on the military balance.
The real change came as a result of other Pakistani and Saudi Arabian decisions. While such reports are impossible to verify, it appears that a significant decision to increase aid to the Taliban was taken during a visit to Pakistan by Prince Turki al-Faisal Saud, head of the Saudi General Intelligence Agency, in July 1996. Pakistan still found that the Tajik-dominated government in Kabul posed a threat to Pakistan by keeping the Pashtuns, uncontrolled by any state, in a condition of agitation. Furthermore, while Pakistan waited for Afghanistan to open up as a stable land bridge to Central Asia, Iran was moving forward with its plans to serve as that region's major outlet to the international market. In April 1996 it had opened a rail link between Mashhad and Turkmenistan, providing the first such connection to the south for the former Soviet rail network. Iran was creating a major free-trade zone on the Iran-Turkmenistan border. It was also proceeding with swap deals for Central Asian oil and gas, under which the Central Asian states would supply northern Iran, while Iran would export its own fossil fuel from southern Iran instead of shipping them by the more costly overland route to its North, and Iran would pay the Central Asian states in hard currency.
At the same time the stakes for Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had greatly increased. Not just trade routes, but potentially lucrative oil and gas pipelines were involved. In the spring of 1996, press reports revealed that a partnership between the American company Unocal and the Saudi company Delta had concluded plans for multi-billion dollar oil and gas pipelines from Turkmenistan to Pakistani Baluchistan via Herat and Qandahar. Originally these companies had concluded separate agreements with military commanders all along the projected pipeline route, and the Taliban, who now controlled the entire route, had become their major partner. It became apparent, however, that the billions of dollars of financing required for this route would not be available without the agreement of the Government of Afghanistan. Rabbani, naturally, was reluctant to sponsor a project that would strengthen his opponents. His government thus became even more of a major strategic obstacle to Pakistan's goal of reaching Central Asia and Saudi Arabia's aim of containing Iran.
The U.S. appears to have looked benignly on Pakistani moves, though there is no evidence of direct U.S. assistance to the Taliban. The pipeline project would serve the economic interests of a U.S. company and a Saudi company, would serve Washington's goals of isolating Iran, and might provide funds needed for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. The Taliban's conservative, tribal brand of Islam was also hostile to the radical, revolutionary Islamic movements involved in international terrorist activities, some of which had training camps in Afghanistan. The Taliban had also made some early statements against the drug trade, though since taking control of the Helmand Valley, the largest of Afghanistan's three major opium- producing areas, they appeared to have profited from it as had the previous authorities. The Taliban controlled areas producing about 95 per cent of Afghanistan's opium crop. Hence while the U.S. probably did not participate directly in organizing or assisting the Taliban, the movement appeared to serve some of its strategic and economic interests.
While this author does not have any direct evidence linking the pipeline plans to the new Taliban offensive, the context is too suggestive to overlook. Soon after the finalization of the pipeline plans, Prince Turki visited Islamabad. Within two months, the Taliban were on the move against Jalalabad, a target that Pakistan had previously forbidden them, and which enabled them to cut off Kabul's main supplies of food and fuel. They captured this previously autonomous Eastern zone, the second of Afghanistan's major opium-producing areas, on 11 September. The Governor fled, apparently as a result of economic inducements, many other local commanders were apparently paid off with the Taliban's now ample supplies of cash, and most of the members of the provincial shura were assassinated by tribal rivals in an ambush as they attempted to flee. Osama bin Laden, the Saudi businessman who bankrolled many radical Islamic movements, also appears to have fled from his refuge in Jalalabad at that time, meeting some of Saudi Arabia's and the U.S.'s security goals.
In the Taliban's advance on Kabul, resistance also mysteriously evaporated at key points. When they captured a key road junction, they threatened to move northeast of Kabul and cut off Massoud's supply lines to his base in Panjsher, leading him to evacuate his troops from Kabul on 26 September.
When the Taliban arrived in Kabul, some of their troops captured Najibullah, whom they tortured, killed, and hanged in a public square. This violation of UN sanctuary brought a brief reproof from the Security Council. The Taliban then made their own distinctive assault on the problems confronting Afghanistan by issuing decrees requiring women to wear the full burqa (covering them head-to-toe), closing girls' schools, and forbidding women from working or appearing in public without a male guardian. They also required men to grow beards, wear turbans, and attend mosque. They forbade music, kite flying, and chess. These decrees were denounced by the religious leadership of Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Amnesty International also accused the Taliban of arresting thousands of people thought to be sympathetic to any of the various former governments in house-to-house searches. There were persistent reports of persecution of Panjsheris in particular.
A movement which had started with a core of former students at madrasas belonging to the Deobandi movement had now expanded beyond that. The core of the movement still consisted of leaders from that ultraconservative movement (founded as a reaction against Islamic modernism in 19th-century India). The fighters of this background were young men raised in refugee camps and all-male madrasas in Pakistan, who had hardly lived in Afghan society. They had been raised in an ideologically radical environment against a background of pervasive violence and deprivation. The movement's extreme ideology provided a much needed sense of discipline and purpose in their disrupted lives and provided an outlet for the pervasive generational and gender conflicts that Afghanistan's social disruption had caused. It also provided them with the only livelihood for which they were qualified.
At the same time, as the Taliban expanded their control and became the centre point for the distribution of weapons and cash, many others joined them. They provided a vehicle for many tribal Pashtun youths with no religious training to reassert Pashtun honour after the country's domination by a Tajik-led government. This, in turn, provided a harsh but at least initially effective check on the anarchic tyranny of small commanders in the Pashtun areas. And by exerting strict control over women it reasserted the honour of Pashtun men and legitimated their power with an Islamic symbol, even if it was one not accepted by the vast majority of the world's Muslims. In addition, a significant number of Pashtun professional military officers joined the Taliban, including, by some reports, the former leaders of the Khalq faction, who had been protected by the ISI since the March 1990 unsuccessful coup d'état attempt against Najibullah. The Taliban thus led a formidable if unstable alliance.
In addition, the Taliban were strengthened by a significant number of Pakistanis in their ranks, including tribal youth who fought along with them and, apparently, officers giving them assistance in radio communications and other technical fields. Some Pakistani prisoners captured by Massoud recounted how they had been recruited by the ISI to join units to fight in Afghanistan.
3. POLITICAL ALIGNMENTS AFTER THE TALIBAN CAPTURE OF KABUL
The Taliban do not seem to have had a clear political strategy other than the enforcement of their interpretation of the shari'a. Their Pakistani sponsors did, however, reach a truce agreement with Dostum in order to open the main road from Uzbekistan to Pakistan via Kabul and Jalalabad. Indeed General Babar flew to Mazar-i Sharif several times in October 1996 to win Dostum over to this proposal.
Uzbekistan took a position similar to that of most other CIS states (see 4. INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE TO THE TALIBAN CAPTURE OF KABUL), and Dostum responded accordingly. While it took some time to overcome the long-standing deep mistrust that Dostum felt, especially for Massoud, on 14 October he finally announced in Mazar-i Sharif an alliance of his forces with those of the ousted Rabbani government and the Hizb-i Wahdat. Iran stood firmly behind this alliance and began pouring aid in both by airlift and over its new land bridge to Central Asia.
Massoud's forces soon drove the Taliban out of Panjsher, retook Bagram air base, and pursued the Taliban back to the last pass north of Kabul, where the front line stabilized. Dostum's small air force mounted several raids on Kabul targets, killing civilians in the process.
The Taliban launched an offensive from Herat against Dostum's Northwest lines, where internal political dissension had weakened him. Iran airlifted supplies in response and may also have permitted Dostum to transport Ismail Khan, former governor of Herat, with several hundred troops that had fled Herat with him to refuge in Iran. The Taliban were pushed back but held the last pass before Herat. The fighting in this area caused the displacement of another 50,000 people. The increasingly ethnic character of the conflict was manifest in the ethnically separate flows of displaced people: Pashtuns (mainly nomads) fled to Taliban-controlled Herat, while other groups fled toward Dostum's lines. Several thousand Afghan Turkmen were reported to have fled to Turkmenistan.
The result of these events was an increase in ethnic polarization. The Taliban now controlled all the predominantly Pashtun areas of the country (as well as Herat and Kabul), while non-Pashtun organizations controlled the areas bordering on their co-ethnics in Central Asia. As a sign of the increase in ethnic orientation, Hikmatyar reportedly initiated talks aimed at forming an alliance with the Taliban.
Afghan politics continued to be dominated by armed organizations recruited from ethno-regional networks by leaders with access to resources from some combination of foreign aid and local economic activity, notably the drug trade and other forms of commerce, of all degrees of legality, in international terms (there is no law in Afghanistan in the contemporary sense). All of these armed networks, of course, are led and composed entirely of men.
The principal role of women in Afghan politics in the past 18 years of war has been to function as symbols of legitimization for political groups led by men. At times, however, as in previous periods of Afghan history, women emerged in the public space at moments of crisis. Schoolgirls and teachers led some of the most militant demonstrations in Kabul against the Soviet occupation in 1980-81. The extreme measures taken by the Taliban combined with some networks formed among exiled Afghan women who attended the Beijing UN Conference on Women with NGOs (the Rabbani government had declined to send a delegation to the conference on the grounds that politics was a subject for men) led to a few women, at least, finding the voice to become the subjects rather than the objects of politics.
While these groups remain confined to a few elite women, they are potentially important out of proportion to their size in challenging the monopoly of men over the symbols of both religion and nationhood. Efforts to resolve the conflict have also suffered from the lack of a domestic constituency for peace, as all of the political actors are warriors. Women might help form such a constituency. Even before the Taliban capture of Kabul, an Afghan Women's Network had formed in Pakistan and had begun forming links to women in Kabul. One of their contacts there, archaeology professor Dr. Siddiqa Siddiq, wrote an open letter to the Taliban authorities in Kabul denouncing their practices. Reports emerged of isolated acts of resistance by unarmed women to Taliban coercion, as when a group of unveiled nomads chased off some Taliban who attacked them.
4. INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE TO THE TALIBAN CAPTURE OF KABUL
The Taliban capture of Kabul did not so much change the orientation of major states toward the conflict as solidify it. Pakistan clearly emerged as a sponsor of the Taliban. Throughout the region, there was a persistent belief that the U.S. was in fact behind the movement. Certainly, the Taliban appeared to serve U.S. policy of isolating Iran by creating a Sunni buffer on Iran's border and potentially providing security for trade routes and pipelines that would break Iran's monopoly on the southern trade routes of Central Asia. Indeed, officials of the Unocal oil company publicly evaluated the Taliban victory as a "positive development". The U.S. government reinforced these impressions after the Taliban victory with an announcement, later retracted, that it would send an official to Kabul to study the possibility of reopening the embassy. Nonetheless, no clear evidence indicates U.S. material support, and all officials deny it emphatically, both publicly and privately.
Some in Russia and the Central Asian states originally seem to have panicked excessively. General Alexander Lebed, in particular, issued an alarmist statement claiming that the Taliban intended to sweep north and annex portions of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, but other Russian leaders disagreed with this assessment. The CIS called a meeting of Russia and the Central Asian states in Almaty on 4 October to consider the threat posed by the Taliban. Turkmenistan, in line with its policy of neutrality and its potential to benefit from the Taliban victory, declined to attend. The meeting discussed whether the CIS should take measures to support General Dostum. It ended with a call for unspecified measures to prevent spillover of the Afghan conflict. Russia ceased supplying newly printed banknotes to the Afghanistan Central Bank, depriving the Taliban of an important source of revenue that previous governments had enjoyed.
Iran perceived the Taliban victories as part of a U.S. policy of encirclement and acted accordingly. Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati toured Central Asia in an attempt to gain support for an initiative to convene all the states involved in Afghanistan except, of course, the U.S. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia declined to attend the meeting, which took place in Tehran on 30 October and condemned foreign interference in Afghanistan.
At the global level, spurred on by the Iranian initiative, the UN was finally able to begin a serious approach to the regional problem posed by Afghanistan. On 18 November 1996 it convened in New York a meeting on Afghanistan at the deputy minister level of representatives of major concerned states, including the five permanent members of the Security Council, Germany, Japan, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, India, Italy, Turkey, and the five Central Asian States. The meeting agreed on the need for a framework to end external interference in Afghanistan and decided to reconvene, perhaps at a higher level of representation. It disagreed however, on the question of whether to engage or isolate the Taliban. The Taliban challenged the Rabbani government's control of the UN seat of Afghanistan, but the Credentials Committee deferred a decision, as called for by the U.S.
Shortly before the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, the UN had tried to signal a higher level of commitment to its political efforts in Afghanistan. Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs Marrack Goulding spent 10-13 September in Afghanistan meeting all leaders and discussing the UN role. The UN Afghan mission in the field, led by Dr. Norbert Holl and now augmented by seconded officers from the U.S., Japan, Britain, and Russia, reported progress toward agreement on a cease-fire and demilitarization of Kabul. If the Taliban were now showing new flexibility it might have been because they had lost their patron. On 5 November President Farouq Leghari of Pakistan dismissed Prime Minister Bhutto and her government, including General Babar.
The humanitarian agencies also had to struggle with the new situation. Soon after the Taliban victory, Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali issued a statement reiterating the UN's commitment to the rights of women. Agencies that had become accustomed to working through quiet, slow pressure now had to confront the challenge to their principles head on. The Taliban's harsh regulations forced the closure of many programs, including even, in one area, classes for women in mine awareness. Amid attacks on and even arrests of their staff and the impossibility of continuing many programs involving mothers and children or girls' education, many agencies had to consider if they could continue their work. UNHCR suspended its programs in Kabul on 20 November when Taliban arrested four members of their Afghan staff.
The Taliban relented in a number of small ways - allowing women to come out in public to receive food assistance, so long as they waited in lines separate from men, permitting a small number of female medical staff to work. In early December their leader, Mawlawi Muhammad Umar, called on the Taliban to treat the people of Kabul less harshly.
5. HUMANITARIAN CONSEQUENCES
The Taliban take-over of Kabul had one positive humanitarian consequence in the city: it ended the blockade of Kabul by the Taliban, with the result that both food and other items of trade could reach it more easily. Food supplies increased, but as a result of constant devaluation of the currency, prices continued to rise.
The new regulations imposed by the Taliban are likely to cause additional harm to the already precarious health status of the population of Kabul. Women have been banned from the capital's 32 public bath houses, the only places where many women could wash in hot water. Health care workers expect an increase in gynaecological infections and scabies as a result. The greatest risk is of uterine infection after childbirth, a major cause of maternal mortality. Young children who used to accompany their mothers to the bath houses are also at greater risk of respiratory diseases.
The suspension of UNHCR programs in Kabul as a result of the arrest of staff will, if it continues, hinder the winter feeding of the population. The Taliban also ordered a halt to mining awareness classes for women, which is particularly dangerous in view of the rising incidence of mine injuries in Kabul. According to Save the Children (USA), the increase is mainly due to the closure of schools, including boys' schools, since many of their teachers were women who were no longer permitted to work. As a result more children were playing outside, risking mine injuries. Ironically, the increase in security is also responsible, as people feel freer to travel to previously inaccessible areas, often strewn with mines and unexploded ordnance.
The suspension of employment of women of course places their families at risk. This is particularly so for the estimated 25,000-40,000 widows in Kabul, who often provided their families with their only support.
6. FUTURE PROSPECTS
Afghanistan has once again gained a degree of strategic importance. The renewal of international tension in a tumultuous region, combined with the pervasive violence and social disintegration of the country, has served to polarize the country and region and bring about a new round of fighting. The hegemony of the Taliban, a group exhibiting a curious combination of ideological rigidity and political naiveté, bodes ill for a negotiated solution.
The situation does contain a few new positive developments, however. The convening by the UN of a meeting of the regional states together with the major global political and economic powers creates a framework in which the underlying problems of regional instability and competition can be addressed. The interest of oil companies in the region, while it has spurred a new level of regional competition, also means that a new source of money for reconstruction may be available. Thus far there has been little indication that the international community is prepared to offer any alternative to the fighters and opium growers of Afghanistan. Indeed, in a world beset by donor fatigue it is difficult to envisage yet another massive program of aid. In this context, the interest in Afghanistan by oil companies could be used creatively to support peace rather than aggravate conflict. The UN and major states could work through multilateral financial institutions to design a public-private partnership for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Key to any such program would be the creation of institutions to manage funds generated, including rents from pipelines, that would provide for some accountability to the Afghan people at large and avoid the corruption and decay that oil wealth has brought to states such as Iran and Nigeria.
Such a program of reconstruction conditional on a UN-mediated agreement would provide the international diplomatic effort with significantly more leverage than it now enjoys.
The views expressed in the papers are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of UNHCR.
 This paper provides an update to Barnett R. Rubin, Afghanistan: The Forgotten Crisis (WRITENET for UNHCR/CDR, February 1996; UNHCR/CDR REFWORLD Databases). This first section is largely a summary of material given in greater detail in the rest of the report with full documentation. Hence, except for references to specific publications or items not duplicated below, no sources are given in this section.
 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: Grave Abuses by the Taleban in the Name of Religion (London, 18 November 1996)
 Reuter [Almaty], Chris Bird, "Afghan Refugees Entering Turkmenistan - Red Cross", 21 November 1996; Reuter [Islamabad] "U.N. Fears Ethnic Persecution in Afghan Northwest", 15 November 1996
 New York Times, John F. Burns, "An Afghan Village Destroyed at the Hands of Men Who Vowed Peace", 27 October 1996
 See Rubin, Afghanistan: The Forgotten Crisis, Section 5.1 Party Structures, paragraph on Harakat-i Inqilab-i Islami (Movement of the Islamic Revolution)
 Interview with senior official of humanitarian organization, Morges, Switzerland, 5 October 1996
 National Public Radio [Mashhad], report by Michael Shuster, November 1996
 Reuter [Dubai], "Kazakhstan, Iran to Start Oil Swaps in November", 2 November 1996
 Reuter [Almaty], Douglas Busvine, "Afghan Leader Says Will Not Yield to His Foes", 7 March 1996; Reuter [Islamabad], "Afghanistan to Study Turkmen-Pakistan Gas Pipeline", 5 June 1996
 United Nations, Opium Poppy Production in Afghanistan: High But Stabilized, New UN Survey Finds (Vienna: UN Information Service, 25 September 1996)
 According to one account, the Governor of Nangarhar (the province of which Jalalabad is the capital), Haji Abdul Qadir, was given $10 million to leave. According to another account (more reliable in the opinion of the present author) he was told by the Pakistani security services that if he did not resist the Taliban he would be allowed to keep the $10 million he had in Pakistani banks, which otherwise would be confiscated.
 Interview with Afghan-American linked to Taliban, October 1996
 For a relatively detailed account of this event, see The Nation, Fred Halliday, "Kabul's Patriarchy with Guns", 11 November 1996, pp. 19-22
 United Nations. Security Council. President, Security Council Demands All Parties in Afghanistan Respect Safety of United Nations, International Personnel (S/PRST/1996/40), 30 September 1996
 United Nations Assistance for Afghanistan: Weekly Update, No. 187, 8 October 1996; Voice of America [Kabul], Douglas Bakshian, "Taliban/Women", 1 October 1996
 Associated Press [Cairo], "Muslim Brotherhood Leader Lashes Out at Taliban Militia", 8 October 1996
 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: Grave Abuses by the Taleban in the Name of Religion, London, 18 November 1996
 Inter Press Service [Kandahar], Rahimullah Yusufzai, "Afghanistan: Reclusive Taleban Chief Is Man with a Mission", 9 October 1996; United Press International, "Pakistanis Will Help Taliban Frame Laws", 2 October 1996
 The Nation; Interviews with Afghan sources, Rome, 13 October 1996
 Amnesty International; New York Times, John F. Burns, "Afghan Driven from Kabul Makes Stand in North", 8 October 1996; BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 14 November 1996, quoting Russian Public TV [Moscow], "Russian Correspondent Reports from Camp for Taleban POWs", 12 November 1996
 United Press International [Islamabad], "Pakistan Sees Progress in Afghan Talks", 16 October 1996; Voice of America [Mazar-i Sharif], Sarah Horner, "Afghanistan/Yusef", 17 October 1996; Reuter [Islamabad], Alistair Lyon, "Pakistani Minister Resumes Afghan Peace Shuttle", 20 October 1996
 Reuter [Kabul], Jeremy Wagstaff, "Afghan Rivals Clash on Northern Plains", 15 October 1996
 Toronto Sun, Eric Margolis, "New Players in an Old War", 24 October 1996
 Voice of America [Kabul], Douglas Bakshian, "Afghan Fighting", 15 October 1996
 Reuter [Almaty], 21 November 1996; Reuter [Islamabad], 15 November 1996
 BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 23 November 1996, quoting al-Hayat [London], Ahmad Muwaffaq Zaydan, "Hekmatyar's Deputy Has Traveled to Kandahar and Discussed Participation in the Taleban Government", 21 November 1996 [electronic format]
 Barnett R. Rubin, The Fragmentation of Afghanistan: State Formation and Collapse in the International System (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995), pp. 25, 137
 Afghan Women's Network, "Statement by the Afghan Women's Network" (Islamabad, 15 October 1996) [electronic format, distributed by The Human Rights Information Network, 16 October 1996]
 Reuter [Kabul], Michael Battye, "Afghan Woman Appeals to Taleban to Ease Strictures", 22 October 1996; United Nations Assistance for Afghanistan: Weekly Update, No. 190, 30 October 1996, and No. 193, 20 November 1996; Reuter [Mazar-i Sharif], Marie Frail, "Afghan Women Demonstrate Against Taleban", 23 October 1996
 Reuter [London], "Taleban Takeover of Afghanistan 'positive' - Unocal", 1 October 1996
 Reuter [Washington], Patrick Worsnip, "U.S. Is Sending an Envoy to Taleban in Afghanistan", 1 October 1996
 United Press International [Moscow], Ron Laurenzo, "Yeltsin Calls for CIS Afghan Summit", 1 October 1996; Inter Press Service [Moscow], Sergei Strokan, "Russia-Afghanistan: Deep Splits among Russian Policymakers", 9 October 1996
 United Press International [Moscow], "Turkmenistan Backs Taliban", 8 October 1996
 Inter Press Service [Moscow], 9 October 1996; Reuter [Almaty], Chris Bird, "Iran's Velayati Urges Peace Talks in Afghanistan", 16 October 1996; Foreign Broadcast Information Service Daily Report; Reuter [Almaty], "CIS Leaders Vow to Thwart Any Afghan Border Threat", 5 October 1996
 Reuter [Kabul], Tim Johnston, "Payday for Kabul's Civil Servants", 3 November 1996
 Reuter [Almaty], 5 October 1996; United Press International [Almaty], "Iran Calls for UN Role in Afghanistan", 15 October 1996
 Reuter [Dubai], Sharif Imam-Jomeh, "Iran Conference Urges Halt to Afghan War", 30 October 1996
 Reuter [New York], "U.N. Says Afghan Meeting Sent 'resounding message'", 19 November 1996; interviews with participants in the meeting, New York, 19 November 1996
 United Nations, Fifty-first General Assembly, Credentials Committee, Credentials Committee Defers Decision on Afghanistan (GA/9127), 11 October 1996
 United Nations, Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, "Press Briefing" (New York, 26 September 1996)
 Reuter [Peshawar], "U.N. Says New Afghan Ceasefire Plan Drawn Up", 13 November 1996
 Reuter [Islamabad], "Pakistan President Fires Bhutto, Dissolves Assembly", 4 November 1996 [the dateline is before the event, because the dateline is 17:50 PST, corresponding to 6:50 Pakistan time the next day. The president took the decision in the early hours of November 5, Pakistan time]; Reuter [Kabul], Michael Battye, "Bhutto Dismissal Could Affect Afghan Taleban", 5 November 1996
 United Nations, Department of Public Affairs, Secretary-General Restates United Nations Policy on Gender Equality in Response to Concerns about Status of Women in Afghanistan (New York, 8 October 1996); Inter Press Service [New York], Thalif Deen, "U.N. - Afghanistan: UN Warns Taleban over Treatment of Women", 9 October 1996
 Interviews with officials of humanitarian organizations working in Afghanistan, Morges, Switzerland, 4-5 October 1996; United Press International [Islamabad], Karen Byrne, "Aid Agencies Take On the Taliban", 13 October 1996
 United Nations Assistance for Afghanistan: Weekly Update, No. 187, 8 October 1996 and No. 193, 20 November 1996; United Press International [Islamabad], "UNHCR Suspends Programs in Kabul", 20 November 1996
 Reuter [Kabul], Tim Johnston, "Red Cross Hands Out Food to Disabled Afghan Veterans", 13 November 1996; Reuters [Kabul], Tim Johnston, "Despite Taleban, Women Are Back Working", 30 October 1996
 Reuter [Kabul], "Afghan Taleban Asks Members Not To Be Harsh", 3 December 1996
 Inter Press Service [Rome], Mahesh Uniyal, "Afghanistan: Islamist Takeover Brings Benefits As Well As Criticism", 12 November 1996
 United Press International [Islamabad], "Kabul's Women Face Health Risks", 27 November 1996
 United Nations Assistance for Afghanistan: Weekly Update, No. 192, 12 November 1996, and No. 193, 20 November 1996; Reuter [Kabul], Michael Battye, "Landmine Victims Soar in Afghan Capital", 4 November 1996
 Sydney Morning Herald, Mark Baker, "Hunger Stalks Streets of Kabul", 3 October 1996 [electronic format, edited/distributed by The Human Rights Information Network, 4 October 1996]; Reuter [Kabul], 30 October 1996