Undersecretary of State Margherita Boniver
Interview with Gian Luigi Capurso of IL SECOLO XIX
October 4, 2001
Rome. Abandon the Taliban to their destiny, Pakistan is ready to accept the
Rome accord for the future Afghanistan. These were the words of Pakistans
Foreign Minister, Abduyl Sattar and President Parvez Musharraf to the Italian
Undersecretary of State, Margherita Boniver, who is returning to Italy today
from Islamabad. The Rome accord was undersigned three days ago by all Afghan
opposition parties following the astute mediation of Afghanistans ex-king
Zahir Shah with whom Boniver will try and make contact later today. That this
is the new attitude of the Afghanistans protector-State is confirmed by
the Pakistani Ambassador in Rome, Zafar Hilaly: "We will accept any government
legitimately elected in Kabul. This is why we were against the dominating role
of the Northern Alliance that represents only 5-6% of Afghanis, and dubious
about that of the ex-king". But the Rome accord is something else: all
Afghan opposition forces represented by the Supreme Council of national unity,
which will be the provisional government and will convene the decisive Loya
Jiga, the assembly of all tribes, to define the definitive institutional framework.
QUESTION: Mrs. Boniver, where you entrusted with a message on this two day visit to
ANSWER: "I observed that Pakistani authorities are very interested, other
than in Italys position in the international coalition against terrorism,
in the role of "facilitator" played by Afghanistans ex-king
who lives in Rome. Both the Foreign Minister Sattar and President Musharraf
manifested notable interest in this option, an emissary of Zahir Shah will in
fact be invited to go to Islamabad shortly".
QUESTION: This is a change in the Pakistani position.
ANSWER: "In effect, it is an important change in position: until a few
days ago the Pakistanis felt rather lukewarm about the ex-king".
QUESTION: Perhaps because Zahir Shah is no longer putting himself forward as
a possible solution but as a mediator to resolve the issue among those Afghan
groups opposed to the Taliban.
ANSWER: "In truth, Zahir Shah has always spoken about this famous Loya
Jiorga rather than himself personally. Hes been speaking about it since
99. Now the situation is becoming more focused. The tribal assembly must
be convened by the Supreme Council of national unity. All Pakistanis we spoke
with repeatedly underscored how a peace process based solely on a single figure
such as the former king or a single organization such as the National Alliance
would be unsatisfactory. They would find it unbalanced because they claim the
Northern Alliance is not representative of all of Afghanistan".
QUESTION: From what you are saying Mrs. Boniver, its clear that Pakistan, who
till yesterday was the state-protector of the Taliban government, is now thinking
in other terms.
ANSWER: "My meeting with President Musharraf lasted an hour. Throughout
his discussions, he spoke as if the abolition or "elimination of Osama
Bin Laden and the defeat of terrorism in Afghanistan had already occurred".
QUESTION: Did this also include the elimination of the Taliban government?
ANSWER: "Exactly. Musharraf saw the end of the Taliban regime as a given.
This is a very important turnaround".