United Nations


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

6 December 1995


Fiftieth session
Agenda item 20 (d)


Report of the Secretary-General


The Special Mission and the political situation:  developments
from mid-September to November 1995

1.   At my  instruction, the  Head of  the Special  Mission to  Afghanistan,
Ambassador  Mahmoud Mestiri, arrived  in Islamabad  on 16  September 1995 to
resume United  Nations  peacemaking efforts  in  Afghanistan.   On  the  way
there, he represented me at the meeting/seminar convened at Tashkent by  the
Government of  Uzbekistan  on the  issues  of  security and  cooperation  in
Central Asia.  At that  event, the Head of the  Special Mission was received
by the President of  Uzbekistan, Mr. Islam Karimov, and met the Minister for
Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan and other  officials to discuss the  situation
in Afghanistan.

2.   When the  Head of the  Special Mission arrived  in the  region, much of
Afghanistan  was  embroiled  in fierce  fighting, especially  in  and around
Kabul. The Taliban, who  were at this time in  control of more than half the
country, had  moved close to Kabul  in an apparent  bid to remove  President
Burhanuddin Rabbani  from power by  force, to take  over the  capital and to
establish an  Islamic government.  Mr. Rabbani and his commander, Ahmad Shah
Masood, who controlled Kabul and five  other provinces in the  north-eastern
part of the country, were evidently determined to defend Kabul at all cost.

3.   The  leader of  the National  Islamic Movement  of Afghanistan  (NIMA),
General Rashid Dostum, and his allies  in the Supreme Coordination  Council,
controlled the provinces in the north of Afghanistan, and were prepared to

95-39064 (E)   081295/...
 defend  them  against either  the  Rabbani  or  Taliban  forces.   Sporadic

fighting continued in and  around the Salang highway  between the Dostum and
Rabbani forces, following  the collapse of an unannounced cease-fire between
them. Fighting also continued  in Bamyan in the  central region between  the
rival factions  of the  Hezb-e-Wahdat.   The three  provinces of  Nangarhar,
Laghman and Kunar in eastern Afghanistan,  under the leadership of  Governor
Hajji Abdul Qadir, remained relatively calm and neutral in these conflicts.

4.   In short,  the general atmosphere  in Afghanistan was  that of war  and
preparation  for war.   The erstwhile  rivalry, sometimes  violent, that had
existed among the nine political parties  formed during the struggle against
the Sovietbacked Government, appeared to have  changed into a conflict among
three  major armed groups:   the  Taliban, the forces  controlled by General
Dostum  and  his  allies  in  the  Supreme  Coordination  Council,  and  the
government forces of President  Rabbani.  The country  seemed to be  heading
for a major and bloody contest among these forces for the  control of Kabul.
The Head of  the Special Mission was determined  to do his utmost to prevent
such a contest, with all the bloodshed and misery it would entail.

5.  This tense  situation was exacerbated by a reported increase in external
interference in support of  one or the other of the armed factions,  through
the direct  or indirect  supply of weapons,  ammunition and  other forms  of
military assistance.   This manner  of foreign  intervention in  Afghanistan
has persistently  complicated efforts to  restore peaceful conditions  there
and the General Assembly and Security  Council have rightly called  upon all
States to desist from it.

6.    In these  unpromising  circumstances, I  instructed  the Head  of  the
Special Mission to pursue the following objectives:

  (a)  To seek  agreement between the major  warring factions for  a limited
cease-fire  of about 10 days,  with each party maintaining  its position and
territory occupied  at  the cease-fire  time.    Agreement on  this  limited
cease-fire should  be followed immediately by serious negotiations among the
concerned parties for the transfer of power by President Rabbani in Kabul;

  (b)   To negotiate the establishment of a  forum or mechanism representing
the  warring  parties  and  others  to  which  power  would  be transferred,
whereupon a long-term  nationwide cease-fire would come into force, possibly
supervised by  international monitors.  The  mechanism would  then deal with
the issues of an  interim Government, security and  a neutral force for, and
demilitarization  of,  Kabul.    These  would  be  the  first  steps towards
political normalization.

7.   In pursuit of  these goals, the  Head of the  Special Mission  shuttled
repeatedly  between  various   cities  in  Afghanistan  for  meetings   with
President  Rabbani  and his  commander, Ahmad  Shah  Masood; General  Rashid
Dostum;  the  Taliban  Shura;  the leader  of  the  Hezb-e-Islami, Gulbuddin
Hekmatyar; Governor Hajji Qadir  and members of his Eastern Zone Shura;  the
leader  of the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan (NIFA), Pir Sayed Ahmed
Gailani; the representative of the Hezb-e-Wahdat,  Mr. Taleb; the leader  of
the Harakat-e-Islami, Ayatollah  Assef Mohseini; and other prominent  Afghan
personalities and organizations.
  8.  The Head of the  Special Mission also travelled to Tehran on 27 and 28
September 1995, at the invitation of the Government of the Islamic  Republic
of Iran, and held  a meeting with  the Deputy Minister for Foreign  Affairs,
Mr. Allauddin  Boroujerdi, and his advisors  on the  conflict in Afghanistan
and how the Islamic Republic of Iran could  assist the United Nations  peace
process. The Deputy Minister pledged his  Government's full support for  the
United Nations  peace efforts; he hoped  also that  the necessary assistance
would  be provided by the  United Nations and the international community to
the Afghan  refugees, especially those residing  in the  Islamic Republic of

9.  Several meetings  were also held  with the Minister for Foreign  Affairs
of  Pakistan, Sardar Aseff  Ahmad Ali,  and other  government officials; the
SecretaryGeneral of  the Organization of  the Islamic  Conference (OIC), Mr.

Al-Ghabid, and his senior colleagues; a  visiting Saudi official, Mr.  Ahmed
Badeeb; and  the  United States  Assistant  Secretary  of State,  Ms.  Robin
Raphel.   The Special  Mission, supported  by the  Office of  the Secretary-
General in Afghanistan,  regularly briefed representatives of the  permanent
members of  the  Security Council  and  other  interested Member  States  in
Islamabad and Kabul.

10.   Differences remain  among the warring  parties on the  proposal for  a
limited cease-fire.   President Rabbani expressed his willingness to  accept
an unconditional and nationwide cease-fire to  permit talks on the  transfer
of  power.   His  opponents,  General  Dostum  and  especially the  Taliban,
insisted that Mr. Rabbani should step down from  power before they agreed to
the cease-fire  and negotiations on the  transfer of power.   The compromise
proposal  that negotiations  on the  cease-fire  and  the transfer  of power
should be pursued concurrently was also not acceptable to all the parties.

11.  The  Taliban in particular seemed to  believe that a military  takeover
of Kabul  was possible  and was  within their  grasp and  that a  cease-fire
would simply provide a  respite to Mr.  Rabbani, enabling him to regain  his
military  strength.  The  representatives  of the  Taliban  and  the Supreme
Coordination  Council  were  engaged  in  protracted  negotiations  on   the
possible  formation of  political  and military  commissions  for  the final
assault  on Kabul.    Under  these circumstances,  the Head  of  the Special
Mission was unable  to secure agreement  among the  parties to the  proposal
for a limited cease-fire.

12.  The general view of  the Afghan people remains that, his mandate having
expired  on 28 December  1994, Mr.  Rabbani must transfer power  to a broad-
based  representative body.  While  the forces opposed  to Rabbani wished to
see him removed by force, I was convinced  that the transfer of power should
be achieved through peaceful negotiations in accordance  with the principles
of the  United Nations.    To  this end,  the Head  of the  Special  Mission
travelled  several  times  to Kabul,  often in  dangerous  circumstances, to
persuade Mr. Rabbani to  relinquish power peacefully,  if only to avoid  the
risk  of  a major  confrontation  in  Kabul  and spare  its  population from
further destruction and bloodshed.

13.   In  two  crucial  meetings held  in Kabul  on 21  and 22  October, Mr.
Rabbani  expressed to  the Head  of the  Special Mission his  willingness to
transfer  power,  not  to  his  "enemies",  but  to  a  mechanism comprising
representatives of the warring parties, including his  own, as soon as  such
a  body  could  be  agreed  upon  and  constituted.    He  insisted  on  the
declaration of a cease-fire, however limited,  to allow for this arrangement
to take place, and on the need to curb foreign interference in  Afghanistan,
especially by  outside forces who  were bent  on removing him.   The Head of
the Special  Mission urged Mr. Rabbani  to declare  publicly his willingness
to relinquish power  to an agreed mechanism, and  to give assurances to  his
opponents, who  were sceptical  of his  real intentions  to step  down.   He
agreed  to make  such a  public declaration.   He  also said  that he  would
provide the  Head of  the Special  Mission with  a list  of names of  Afghan
personalities whom  he recommended for  membership of the  transfer-of-power
mechanism.   Some names  emerged informally  at this  meeting.  It  was also
understood  that the  leader or  head of  the mechanism,  who would  be  the
recipient of power  from Mr. Rabbani,  should be  chosen at  a later  stage.
Mr. Rabbani also referred  to his own peace initiatives, which he said would
be undertaken concurrently with those of the United Nations.

14.   On  6 November,  Mr. Rabbani  announced  publicly  his willingness  to
transfer power to an individual or commission and proposed that the  warring
parties and  other neutral  personalities should sit together,  under United
Nations  mediation, to agree  on a  suitable mechanism and the  date for the
transfer of power.   As a precondition, however, Mr. Rabbani called for  the
cessation  of all  hostilities  and for  an  end  to  all forms  of  foreign

15.   Two  days later,  on  8  November, the  Head  of the  Special  Mission

travelled to Kabul to  discuss these points  with Mr. Rabbani and to  obtain
the list  of names  he recommended  for membership  of the  mechanism.   The
President reiterated the  main elements  of his  declaration but,  regarding
the names, said he was awaiting the outcome  of a meeting that was currently
under  way  in Kandahar  between  the  Taliban  and  representatives of  the
leaders of  the Hezb-e-Islami, Younis Khalis, and of the Harakat-e-Inqilabi-
Islami, Nabi  Mohammadi.  He said that these talks were  going well and that
he expected  that his representatives would  shortly be  invited to Kandahar
to join the talks, which were centred on  the membership of the transfer-of-
power mechanism.  He agreed with the Head of the Special Mission that  there
should be  a minimum  time-lag between the  declaration of a  cease-fire and
the actual  transfer of  power, and  that a  suitable arrangement should  be
agreed among the parties for the security of Kabul.

16.  Following  this meeting, the Head of the Special Mission  met in Mazar-
i-Sharif  on  11  November   with  General  Dostum,  who  characterized  Mr.
Rabbani's declaration  of 6 November as  yet another ruse  to gain time  and
cling to power.   He too expressed great  concern at the increasing pace  of
outside   interference  in   Afghanistan.    He  felt   that  no  meaningful
reconciliation  between  Mr. Rabbani  and  the  forces  opposed  to him  was
feasible and  feared that  a  major battle  for  the  control of  Kabul  was
inevitable.   He also wondered  whether the formation of  a parallel interim
Government, comprising the Taliban, the members of the Supreme  Coordination
Council and others, and  based in Jalalabad,  might not be a way out  of the
current impasse.   He  repeated his  full support  for  the United  Nations'
peace efforts, while maintaining his own contacts with the Taliban.

17.   The members of the  Taliban Shura who met with the Head of the Special
Mission also  expressed  serious  doubts about  Mr. Rabbani's  intention  to
relinquish power and expressed their conviction that  the only way to effect
the transfer of power was by military means.
  18.  The Head of the Special Mission  returned to Kabul on 14 November for
a further meeting with Mr. Rabbani.  At  this meeting, the latter  submitted
names,  representing  all  the  provinces  of  Afghanistan,  which had  been
previously discussed  with the Head of  the Special Mission.   In his  view,
the names reflected a regional, ethnic,  religious and political balance and
he asked  that they be  considered by the  other parties.   The Head of  the
Special  Mission accepted the names on the clear understanding that the list
was not a final one but would be  subject to amendment by the other parties,
until an agreed and definitive list could be established.

19.  The Head  of the Special Mission  immediately submitted these  names to
General  Dostum and,  through  him, to  the  other members  of  the  Supreme
Coordination Council and, two  days later, to the Taliban in Kandahar.   The
Taliban assured  the Head  of the  Special Mission  that the  list would  be
considered  by  their  full  Shura,  whose  formal  reaction  would  be made
available to  him shortly.  The  list was also  forwarded to Governor  Hajji
Qadir for  consideration by  the members  of the  Eastern Zone  Shura.   The
Governor's  initial response  was positive  and he said  he would  refer the
list to his area's Shura for a formal consideration and response.

20.   On 19 November, the Head of the Special Mission travelled to Shebargan
for  a meeting with  General Dostum,  who welcomed  this list of  names as a
reasonable  basis for negotiations  and encouraged  the Head  of the Special
Mission to continue with his consultations.   The General himself  submitted
10 names that he wished to  see included.  He said  that he would personally
endorse a final list that was acceptable to  the United Nations, whose peace
efforts in Afghanistan he supported fully.

21.  In a meeting with the leader  of the Harakat-e-Islami, Ayatollah  Assef
Mohseini,  the Head  of the  Special  Mission  was given  several additional
names.   Ayatollah  Mohseini observed  that  the  Afghan Shi'ite  community,
which in his view constituted some 25 per  cent of the country's population,
needed  to be equitably represented  in the mechanism.   He recommended that
neutral and independent Afghans should form  the majority of the  mechanism.
This would  reduce the  often divisive  role of  the parties  and provide  a

needed stability to the peace process.

22.   The Head  of the  Special Mission  planned to  travel to  Kabul on  23
November for a meeting with Mr. Rabbani to  consider the names given to  him
by  General Dostum  and Ayatollah  Mohseini.  The  formal response  from the
Taliban was then expected.  However, the visit  could not take place because
of renewed hostilities in and  around Kabul and consequent insecurity in the

23.  At  my request, the Head of  the Special Mission departed Islamabad  on
26 November to report to me  in New York  on this latest phase of the  peace
process.  At the  time of his  departure, intense fighting, involving  often
indiscriminate rocketing and aerial bombardment, was  going on in and around
Kabul between the Taliban and government forces.

24.   I  have been  asked to provide  the Special Mission's  good offices to
secure the release of seven Russian crew members of an aircraft forced  down
by the  Taliban, who have been  detained in Kandahar since  August 1995.   I
accordingly  instructed my  Office in Afghanistan, in  conjunction with OIC,
to undertake  efforts, on humanitarian  grounds, to facilitate  negotiations
for the early release of these captives.   To my regret, these  negotiations
have yet  to  succeed.   I  appeal for  the  release  of  any and  all  non-
combatants who may be in detention.

25.   Afghanistan is  now at a  critical crossroads:   either  to follow the
route to peace  through dialogue and negotiations  in a spirit of  give-and-
take, and with the assistance of the United  Nations and the cooperation  of
the neighbouring and  other interested countries; or  to follow the route of
continued war  and  confrontation  where today's  victor may  be  tomorrow's
vanquished.   Unfortunately, the current  leaders of  the principal factions
seem to  favour the  latter route,  notwithstanding the  evident longing  of
their people for an end to almost two decades of strife.

26.    I  nevertheless  continue  to  believe that  peace  and  stability in
Afghanistan are  attainable, and that the  United Nations  should not falter
at this  juncture. The international community  should not  lose interest in
Afghanistan  nor  become  accustomed  to  the  country's  plight.    On  the
contrary,  it  should be  prepared to  assist, in  every way  possible, this
founding member of the Organization to know peace again.



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