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Tuesday, 5 November, 2002, 00:56 GMT
US rapped for backing warlord
New recruits are in training for Ismail Khan's new army
Ismail Khan has build a powerbase in Herat

There has been criticism of the United States-led coalition for continuing to support an Afghan warlord who activists say is the enemy of human rights.

Ismail Khan
Khan is known among the locals as 'Emir of Herat'
The criticism stems from a report by the lobby group, Human Rights Watch, which focused on the power wielded by Ismail Khan, who controls the north-western province of Herat.

According to the report, Ismail Khan has created a mini-state in Herat - a closed society without room for dissent, independent opinion or personal freedoms.

The report criticises the international community for complicity in building the power of regional military commanders whose human rights records, it argues, rival the worst Taleban commanders.

'Climate of fear'

The group says the United Nations non-intrusive policies are inappropriate and ineffective for the protection of human rights.

It says that at the same time American military forces have maintained relationships with warlords which undercut efforts to strengthen the authority of the government in Kabul.

Overall, the researchers conclude that the human rights situation in the country remains grim, despite the demise of the Taleban.

In reference to Herat, the group describes a climate of fear where arbitrary arrests, torture and violence are commonplace, particularly targeting the province's Pashtun minority.

It calls for the expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) beyond the capital, Kabul, into regional centres like Herat.

Moreover, it calls on the US to exert its influence and adopt a peacekeeping role in the regions to help protect those Afghans who are most at risk from the current regime.


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09 Jul 02 | South Asia
10 Feb 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
01 Nov 01 | South Asia
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