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Tuesday, 13 November, 2001, 15:48 GMT
Your questions on the war
Shams, California, USA asks:

Why all of a sudden are the Northern Alliance referred to as "noble" and " heroes"? What about their so-called "human rights" violations?

BBC correspondent, Kate Clark writes:

None of the armed groups or military leaders in Afghanistan - communist, Mujahadeen or Taleban - has a clean history.

Many of the commanders currently with the Taleban or the Northern Alliance have served on different sides during this long war.

Even so, the United States and Britain have chosen to back the Northern Alliance in their war against the Taleban and Osama Bin Laden.

Widespread lawlessness and infighting

Many journalists, myself included, have reported Afghan concerns about the track record of the Northern Alliance - particularly the widespread lawlessness and infighting when they were last in power in Kabul in the mid 1990s.

The Taleban may be loathed in the west

Kate Clark
The Taleban may be loathed in the west, but many people in the Muslim world still believe that even though their rule is harsh, they 'cleaned up' Afghanistan.

That was certainly true in the beginning, when they swept through most of the south and east of the country with barely a fight, disarming warlords and opening up trade routes.

Survivors of abuse are often frightened into silence

However, I ran into trouble from the Taleban reporting on how that myth turned sour: interviewing the victims of violent crime in Kabul who alleged that the gangs were colluding with Taleban police; reporting on the massacres of civilians in Yakowlang in January and the burning of villages this summer.

Other stories remain to be told

Kate Clark
Other stories remain to be told. Survivors of abuse are often frightened into silence.

I never felt I uncovered the sexual traumas suffered by what I suspect are many Afghan women and boys in this war.

The most common desire I hear from Afghans is for a government that is not composed of armed men from either side.

A campaigning group of Afghan victims of war crimes has been set up

A campaigning group of Afghan victims of war crimes has been set up - demanding that no war criminal - Northern Alliance or Taleban - should be given a position in any post-Taleban administration.

If there is an American-backed Alliance victory in Afghanistan, it may only be such public pressure - domestic and international - that prevents these men taking power.

However, it is all too easy to imagine the American campaign leading to a more chaotic Afghanistan where the worst commanders from both sides would rise to power, setting up petty fiefdoms where they could.

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