CHARIKAR, Afghanistan – A general with the Afghan opposition alliance said Sunday it has set aside about 2,000 security officers as part of a plan to administer the capital, Kabul, if the ruling Taliban is pushed out.
Speaking to The Associated Press at his headquarters in Charikar just 25 miles north of Kabul, Gen. Haji Almaz Khan said the officers will be armed with light weapons and that their duty would be to police the city until an administrative body can be set up.
"It's a police force of 2,000 men. It's separate from the fighting unit," Almaz said. The force is made up of Ministry of the Interior officers from nearby provinces under the alliance's control, including Kapissa, Jabal Saraj and Salang.
Sending soldiers into Kabul could send the wrong signal to other parties fighting the Taliban government, Northern Alliance officials said. The alliance said it would like to see some sort of political settlement among all the factions for a post-Taliban Afghanistan and does not want to complicate things by rushing into the capital.
Pakistan, a key American ally in the war on terrorism, does not want the rebels in power. A senior Pakistani official said last week that his government and U.S. officials had agreed the northern alliance should not enter Kabul until a post-Taliban government is in place.
Almaz said his men are ready to advance into Kabul but that the green light would have to come from the defense ministry of Afghanistan's government-in-exile.
He said the Taliban's front line north of Kabul, adjacent to the area under his control, has been beefed up significantly since the U.S.-led airstrikes against the Taliban began Oct. 7.
"Many had left Kabul for the front line thinking it's safer there," Almaz said.
A significant number of the troops in the Taliban front line facing Almaz are radical Muslims who have come from abroad, including Arab and North African countries, Pakistan, China and Chechnya, to join suspected terrorist Usama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda organization.
"Positions on the Taliban's front line are generally controlled by foreign units, in particular north of Kabul," said Anthony Davis, an Afghanistan correspondent for Jane's Defense Weekly.
"They tend to be logistically far better supplied than their Afghan Taliban counterparts," Davis said.
Northern Alliance commanders said they are hoping the Americans will attack the Taliban's front line, but maintained that they can take Kabul even if the United States does not provide them with air cover.