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Friday, 19 October, 2001, 21:58 GMT 22:58 UK
Who should govern Afghanistan?
President Bush has finally admitted that one of the key aims of the war on terrorism is the overthrowing of the Taleban. But the question of who should take up the reins of power is a matter of great dispute.

General Musharraf of Pakistan would certainly oppose the Northern Alliance having a role in any future Afghan Government.

He warned against the plan of imposing a government on Afghanistan if the Taleban rule collapses.

Other world leaders would like a government to be nurtured in Afghanistan that would involve all of the country's different ethnic groups.

But how feasible is that? And who should fill the void if the Taleban are ousted from power? Tell us what you think.

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

Under existing circumstances a democratic government will have a hard time surviving. The international community will have to help out in a large way towards maintaining law and order for a while before the country can be turned over completely to the Afghans.
Ashwin, USA

A broad based government would futher escalate civil war.

Asif, Pakistan/USA
In my point of view, a broad based government, including the Northern Alliance and moderate Talibans would not survive. It would futher escalate civil war in the long run and would make this part of the world very vulnerable to outside forces. No matter how moderate, there will be key differences between Talibans and the Northern Alliance. That could not only destablize Afghanistan again but also Pakistan and Iran. There should be a single government to which a majority of the multi-ethnic people agree and the first objective of that government should be to eradicate the militancy from Afghanistan.
Asif, Pakistan/USA

It's very simple to anwser the question who should rule Afghanistan. Like every nation in the world Afghans have the right and capacity to rule their own country. So I would like to say to the outside powers: if you're a good friend or neigbour of Afghanistan, don't interfere in our state-building, but help us to rebuild Afghanistan. A stable and prosperous Afghanistan is in the interests of all the world and especially the region.
N. Popal, Afghanistan / Holland

The United States in its eagerness to placate Pakistan has agreed to let 'moderate Taliban elements' to participate in the power equation. Moderate Taliban elements? What sort of nonsense is this? Wake up Mr.Bush, have some coffee.
Uday Hiremath, UK

The West is once again entering the same cycle which put it into this mes

Salima, Pakistan
No other tribe could restore peace to Afghanistan as the Taliban did. For the West, the Taliban are terrorists. For us, Bush, Blair, and all others are. No one has a right to interfere in any other country. They have done enough harm already! The West is once again entering the same cycle which put it into this mess! Will thay ever learn from their mistakes, or will history keep on repeating itself?
Salima, Pakistan

Anything is better than the Taliban. It is offensive to see how they treat women. My guess is that the country will end up under UN supervision when the Taliban is gone.
Christopher E. Cagle, Dallas, TX USA

The Pashtun dominated regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan should be combined into a country, to be ruled by a government of their own. The rest of the regions should be called Afghanistan and they should form their own federation. This way, even if the Pashtuns form the Taleban again, they will be busy fighting on their northern and southeastern borders. They wouldn't have time to export terror to the rest of the world.
Mani, USA

The people of Afghanisthan should deceide who should rule their country. It should not be imposed by USA, Pakisthan, India, Iran, Russia or any other country. All this terrorist activities on Afghanisthan is due to the fact that other countries have plundered and used the people as and when they required and then betrayed them when not needed.
Sridhar, India

The Taliban ought not to be excluded

Andrew T.S. Chung, Canada
Who should form the next government if the Taliban is overthrown remains a mystery. A coalition (the Northern Alliance and others) headed by the former king ought to be accepted by the people of Afghanistan and the international community. The Taliban ought not to be excluded. This way every Ethnic group is represented.
Andrew T.S. Chung, Toronto/Canada

Any government must be representative of its people for it to be successful. For that reason alone, Pashtun participation in a future government in Afghanistan will be necessary. However, inclusion of any of the current Taliban representatives - who are predominantly Pashtun - would be a mistake. Secretary Powell's comments about the possibility of inclusion of "moderate Taliban" elements is perhaps an intentional semantic error to cement the tactical alliance with Pakistan, that really ought to read as "moderate Pashtun". There are probably a number of them who can and should form a political coalition with representatives of the ethnic minorities comprising the Northern Alliance. That may be the only hope for stability in Afghanistan.
Sonny, USA

Afghanistan, which literally means Land of the Afghans, should be ruled by Afghans. Let the UN take the lead in putting a coalition goverment together with all ethnic representation. Let there be a UN mandated timeline of 5-10 years for the country to build its primary infrastructure like roads, rail, etc., rehabilitate all refugees - including those in Pakistan and elsewhere, oversee adult education and expose Afghani communities to the world. This would give ample time for many to understand who they are and what thier country is all about. Lastly keep all foreign elements and neighbors out of the picture even if they have the best intentions.
Rajiv, USA

I think the region is unmanageable and should be divided and split between neighbouring countries.
Vijay Shrivastav, USA

A broad-based government is the only solution

Tahir Farooqi, Pakistan
A broad-based government is the only solution. Stop the attacks on Afghanistan, they are not achieving the goals which were hoped for - instead public opinion is turning against the US and its allies.
Tahir Farooqi, Pakistan

I feel that the US should not take a direct role in filling the vacuum created by the current conflict. History has demonstrated time and again that governments installed by foreign powers are just that, foreign.
David, USA

If we are really concerned about democracy and the Afghan people then shouldn't we allow them to choose their own government rather than imposing rules and regulations on who to choose and who not to choose.
Imran, UK

The best government for Afghanistan is one that is inclusive and respects the diverse ethnic makeup of Afghanistan

Yama Abassi, USA
First of all, I can't help but to be struck by the overt double standard displayed by the government of Pakistan and General Musharraf. Prior to September the 11th, when the world body was looking the other way, Pakistan had no qualms meddling in Afghan affairs and supporting the criminal regime of the Taleban financially, militarily, and strategically. Now, with financial gains in sight, all of a sudden Pakistan has had a change of heart and becomes the "mouthpiece" for Afghans, calling for a representative government.

Having said that, the best government for Afghanistan is one that is inclusive and respects the diverse ethnic makeup of Afghanistan. The make up of this government should be addressed in the traditional Loya Jirga (as outlined by his majesty, king Zahir Shah), or Grand Council, without the due interference of any foreign power, especially Pakistan. Therefore, the best government is one that addresses the aspirations of the Afghans and not the strategic or economic gains of its neighbours.
Yama Abassi, USA

The Taleban should remain in power and not be ousted. The total and utter anti-Taleban bias we see day-in, day-out from all the media is outrageous. Since the Taleban have been in power they have made some major improvements. Why do we never hear about these? There are lots of people happy with the Taleban, why do we never hear from them? (I have). We only ever hear from those that detest the Taleban. The Taleban will no way have been as successful as they were if the people weren't in support of them.

Why, in all the masses of coverage, have we never heard from the Taleban themselves about their answers to the criticisms, and allegations made against them? Yes they have made mistakes, but which government doesn't? They've taken on a country which has suffered over 20 years of suffering from foreign forces, and also suffering their worst drought in living memory, and we're criticising the Taleban for the place being in a bit of mess right now?! Just leave them in peace and let them get on with it for goodness sake. Also some of the measures they have taken are just temporary and they are not against education!
Atif Hamid, Scotland

Based on the current situation in Afghanistan, none of the factions can rule the country because of: Ethnic differences - certain groups would be at a disadvantage. None of the current groups has sufficient resources or mindset to develop the country in the right direction. The country is too big to be administered effectively now.

None of the current groups has sufficient resources or mindset to develop the country in the right direction.

Vimal, Malaysia
My suggestion is let UN rule the country for the next 10 years. The UN's role is to bring the country to normalcy in the aspect of economy, social and politics. Several transition phases need to be established to eventually transfer the power back to the Afghan people. The people of Afghanistan need to choose later, who they want to rule the country. Every Afghan must have the right to exercise his/her choice of future government.
Vimal, Malaysia

Afghanistan needs a federal solution. The various ethnic groups seem to be geographically separated from each other and I imagine that it's best to keep it that way, with Kabul as an exception. The desire for revenge from all sides will be great when the current fighting stops and I don't think Westerners should underestimate this. I also think that the West should keep its involvement to the absolute minimum. Humanitarian aid and building up a basic infrastructure is enough (I wouldn't build too much too quickly, because it's all likely to be destroyed in the next round of fighting. This is going to be a very long process!
Anthony, Germany (UK)

America can be a ruler of its own pet countries who only have the hunger of green money. You can never be the ruler of the whole world. The UN is a group of dummies who cannot even define terrorist. I would like to ask if someone enters your home with a gun and started killing your family members and you protested against him with or without any weapon who would you consider a terrorist him or yourself?
Malikulmaut, Afghanistan

To end the decades-long war and bring peace and prosperity to the country, there should be an elected, democratic government for the people and by the people. The Northern Alliance, US, Russia, Iran, India or any outside force should not interfere in that.
Indiver Badal, Nepal

Afghans have always been independent tribal people only loosely aligned to the king, fighting among themselves commonly and coming together against any foreign invasion. Maybe that's what works best for them. I think the presence of their deposed king will help and a council represented by their most important ethnic groups might work. While all the major players will probably have a say in what is best for Afghan people, only they can decide what works best for them.
Kathariguppa Venkataram, USA

I don't think anyone should be deciding who should rule Afghanistan. Because you know there is no way that the Taleban are going to lose power with US/UK attacks on them. If you don't believe them, then just sit and watch next couple of years. In my personal opinion the Taleban should rule Afghanistan, if not the whole world. Because the kind of stability they brought in Afghanistan after the long war is just incredible to me.
Saeed, UK

The US and European Union should inhabit the region, and totally Americanise the country. Then the other countries in the Middle East will want what they have. At first violence will be a risk, but when the commercialism spreads to other countries, soon we'll have democratic rule throughout the world and these people will have homes and jobs and a reason to live.
Greg, USA

A coalition government, comprising of the northern minorities and Pashtun majority, should be given the ability to create their own government (stress on own). For too long, the Afghans have been denied this right (by the British, Soviets, Americans, and Pakistani). Considering that the Taleban does most of its recruiting from Pakistan, General Musharraf would be the least credible advisor for post-Taleban Afghanistan.
Vinod Kumar, USA

A democratic elected government should be stabilised in Afghanistan. The UN should look after the situation, and no other country should be involved in the process of forming the government.
Subhav, USA

The sentiments of the Taleban will exist in people's minds.

Biplob, USA
I don't understand one thing: What is going to happen to the Taleban government? You might kill some soldiers and also some leaders, but the movement, the thoughts and the sentiments of the Taleban and the pro-Taleban will exist in people's minds. So, I think at the end they should be the part of new government. If not the unrest will always exist in Afghanistan.
Biplob, NY , USA

In a perfect world, a government in which both the Northern Alliance and Taleban are represented should be set up. However, I fear that this is nearly impossible.
Tamora Perez, USA

Only Afghans can rule their own land and decide their own destiny - those who tried to rule them from outside failed miserably. The shattered Soviet empire might be taken as a lesson by others; but, unfortunately, "fanciful tyrants" are taking a wrong lesson out of it.
Abdul Rahim Ahmad, Canada

A moderate and humane group of people who has the support of the majority of the Afghans and has respect for the neighbours and the rest of the world. Which ensures that the Afghan minorities can live their lives in peace and without fear should have the right to rule. It all depends upon UN to ensure that to happen for the regional and world peace.
Syed Amaad Ali Shah, Reading, UK

We need the king back. He's the only one that will stop the suffering

Khaleeq Ahmad, Afghan in the U.S.A.
I would like to start my comment by saying that Pakistan, the creator of the Taleban, should have no right to intervene with the new government of Afghanistan. It was Pakistan who created and supported the Taleban. Pakistan is no different then Osama Bin Laden, If it did not create such a horrible government, we Wouldn't have Bin Laden, or the Sept 11th attacks today. The problems in Afghanistan should be left out of Pakistan's hand.

The new government should include all ethnic groups and We need the king back, though he's a big credit to why the Russians came and why everything started, but he's the only one that will stop the suffering of poor Afghan orphans and women. I hope he can unite Afghanistan once again, and I hope the UN helps to organize a government that the people of Afghanistan can be happy with and live with. And, create a government that has no backing from, Pakistan, Iran, and India.
Khaleeq Ahmad, Born in Afghanistan, raised in the U.S.A.

The Taleban were well received by the people of Afghanistan. They had a sigh of relief after years of war and insecurity. The least the Taleban gave them was a low crime society and peace. Peace after decades of war was valued. The new establishment MUST not be put up, but rather it should somehow evolve from the people of Afghanistan fairly representing all groups. This evolution should be fair and must consider the wishes of the people not long-term goals of the allies.
Abid Siddiq, Canada

After the expected ousting of the Taleban, elections should be held in the war-ravaged country to let people elect a government of their own choice. And Taleban shouldn't be disallowed from taking part in the elections as a political force. Democracy provides a cushion against abrupt change and extremism and it should be used to rid Afghans of extremism.
Ahmad R. Shahid, Pakistan/USA

It's crucial that the Government should be formed in Afghanistan by the people for the people without any outside influnce, whether from the USA or Pakistan. Let the world leave Afghans to decide the rulers that they think are the most appropriate for a better future.
Faheem Moor, OB, Germany

Both the Northern Alliance and the Taleban should be banned from any future Afghan government

Ahmad Pakhtun, Afghanistan
The best thing that can happen to Afghanistan in the next few weeks is for the Afghan intelligentsia to be empowered through the former King of Afghanistan. Both the Northern Alliance and the Taleban should be banned from any future Afghan government. They are a bunch of criminals and act against the will and welfare of the Afghan people.
Ahmad Pakhtun, Afghanistan

I think that Afghanistan should have its own democratic government elected by the people.
Fazli Rabbi Awan

I think that India, Russia and Iran will be able to formulate a government of anti-Taleban forces particularly the Northern Alliance. Only they can save Afghanistan. Pakistan's constant interference in its neighbour has resulted in complete anarchy and chaos. Pakistan-backed jihad outfits must not be allowed to rule any nation anywhere!
Mohan Kumar, India

Stop the attacks first and then try to form a broad-based government consisting of all ethnic groups

Tasnim Tahir, Pakistan
The object of bringing in a government other than the Taleban cannot be achieved through bombing. Stop the attacks first and then try to form a broad-based government consisting of all ethnic groups. This project is painstaking but not impossible. A challenging task for Noble Peace Prize winner, Mr Kofi Annan!
Tasnim Tahir, Pakistan

Afghans should rule their own country. But the USA should renew somekind of Marshall plan to build a country that can feed and employ its people.
Pat Divver, USA

It is proven the best possible government, in any country, is of the democratic form. And democracy calls for the representation of all ethnic or religious groups in that government. The worst possible form of governance is that of a military dictatorship and I hope that Afghanistan never endures such rulers henceforth.
Prashant Valluri, UK/ India

The US has got no right whatsoever to interfere in a sovereign country, i.e. Afghanistan. I think that the Taleban has been the best ruling regime in the country and has got each and every right to govern.
Sabeehuddin, Pakistan

History tells us that both the Northern Alliance and the Taleban have failed their test. When one examines their CVs, none qualify for the position of government . We need educated "qualified" Afghans to go back and build their country. And we need the United Nations and entire world community to support them in doing so. This is because security, peace, and democracy in our country will directly affect the rest of the world's peace and security. So, I would like to ask the world community not to turn its back against us like it did after the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan.
Wali, USA

It must not be seen to be imposed by the United States

Nausherwan Lahori, Lahore, Pakistan
The only government that can succeed in Afghanistan is a moderate, broad-based, yet Pashtun-dominated one. However, it must not be seen to be imposed by the United States, for that will be unacceptable to the Afghans and will not last long. If the Defence Secretary is unsure about how the 'southern tribes' look upon governments imposed from abroad, he should ask America's Ambassador-at-large, Tony Blair.
Nausherwan Lahori, Lahore, Pakistan

Any future set-up in Afghanistan must be a practical reflection of the ground situation in that country besides a realisation of the true ideals of the Afghan people. Also, any decision-makers on the future of Afghanistan should not forget the sacrifice and support of the Pakistani nation for the past twenty-two years. A government that is not friendly towards an increasingly volatile Pakistan would be the worst probable outcome of this situation.
Mukhtar Aziz Kansi, UK

We should give the Northern Alliance the clothing, medical supplies, fuel and ammunition to defeat the Taleban, then work with them economically, politically and militarily to create a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
Dimitri, Michigan, USA

A coalition government should be established in Afghanistan by the United Nations and not the United States

Sadiq Mehdi, USA
A coalition government should be established in Afghanistan by the United Nations and not the United States. This government should have representatives from all major parties. Once these parties bring peace and organisation to the country, elections should be held in order to elect a government by the people of Afghanistan. King Zahir Shah should be allowed to return back to his home country but not as an appointed sovereign leader of Afghanistan by foreign powers. He should earn that appointment by gaining loyalty of his countrymen and by bringing Afghanistan onto the path of economic and social development. All in all, whoever comes to power next in Afghanistan, I wish them good luck.
Sadiq Mehdi, USA

The oppressed people of Afghanistan have paid their dues for the cause of freedom within the last two decades. Afghanistan has traditionally been a non-aligned nation; it is the UN's moral responsibility to help restore peace, freedom and democracy in that country.
Shafie, USA

The ruling of Afghanistan should be given back to the original government and the exiled king should proclaim democracy.
Bob, USA

The Northern Alliance should not be given any role in the next Afghan government. They will be even a bigger threat to the free world than the Taleban. The best solution would be to hold elections under UN supervision and let the Afghans choose the government of their own choice.
Shahid Sheikh, Lahore, Pakistan

The only way forward is a complete disarmament of all parties

Haru, USA
I don't know who should rule but I do know that it's going to be a very rocky road. The problems that ensured the continued ravaging of Afghanistan when the Russians left are still very much alive. If the Taleban is displaced, the leftover Taleban militia will no doubt continue guerrilla action. All those in the Northern Alliance who will feel that they didn't get their due will also do the same. Interference from Pakistan will not cease. The only way forward is a complete disarmament of all parties, and then an establishment of a democratically elected government AND one that gives representation to ALL Afghans.
Haru, USA

In a country that has long been recognised by all, including its inhabitants, to be a multi-ethnic single state there are struggles for power but there is no separatism. With relatively clear and stable tribal territorial divisions, the logical set-up would be a federal one. Breaking up the larger tribal territories into two or more sub-states would help prevent domination of one tribal group over the others.
Peter, Netherlands

In the present situation there can be no serious talk about the future political set-up in Afghanistan. Wisdom demands that the attacks on the country must be stopped and negotiations started in order to form a broad-based government that includes all groups that matter.
Prof. Mukhtar Ali Naqvi, USA

The exiled King should rule Afghanistan.
Gary Wells, USA

Listen now
... to both sides of the debate
See also:

12 Oct 01 | South Asia
Air raids target ground troops
11 Oct 01 | South Asia
Plain sailing for US air force
09 Oct 01 | South Asia
Fears of Afghan food crisis
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