The authorities of Pakistan have allowed an antiTaliban association, the so-called Shura (Council) of the eastern zone (ShEZ), to open its representation in the city of Peshawar, the administrative centre of the North-Western Province of Pakistan which borders on Afghanistan. The emigre Pashtoon leaders who are members of the ShEZ come out in support of former king of Afghanistan Zahir Shah and plan to open their own front to fight the Taliban. One of the leaders of the Shura Haji Mohammad Zaman stated to the English-language newspaper Dawn that work to unite all antiTaliban forces for "struggle against the Kabul regime" will be carried out through the representation in Peshawar. Local observers believe that the recent shut-down of the Taliban's consulate-general in Karachi and the opening of the ShEZ representation are clear evidence of the cardinal change of Islamabad's policy vis-a-vis Afghanistan. The military successes of the Northern Alliance have put Islamabad in a difficult situation. Pakistan is categorically against seizure of Kabul by the "Northerners", motivating this by probable beginning of "squaring of old accounts" among the ethnic groups and continuation of civil war. Islamabad insists that representatives of the Pashtoons who account for 60 per cent of Afghanistan's population hold the leading position in the future political system. The USA has now backed such a stand of president of Pakistan Pervez Musharaff on this issue and also deems seizure of Kabul to be premature.
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