KOENIGSWINTER, Germany (AP) Amid applause and embraces, Afghan leaders signed a pact yesterday creating a temporary administration for their war-ravaged nation. It will be headed by an ethnic Pashtun who battled the Taliban and include two women.
The choosing of a post-Taliban government to lead Afghanistan for the next six months was the result of nine days of furious negotiating and enormous international pressure on the four Afghan factions meeting at a secluded luxury hotel near Bonn.
Under the pact, anti-Taliban commander Hamid Karzai and his Cabinet will take over power in Afghanistan from the triumphant northern alliance on Dec. 22. The deal also requests the United Nations to authorize an international force to keep security in the capital, Kabul, and eventually other areas.
Reaching the agreement also secures billions in aid to reconstruct the country. The European Union quickly promised yesterday a “significant contribution” to helping Afghanistan rebuild.
German leaders and U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who shepherded the parties and won the deal, broke into applause at the signing ceremony yesterday morning. Brahimi then embraced the delegates.
“Nowhere is the feeling of hope greater than among the people of Afghanistan, who during 23 years of tragedy and loss have maintained the hope that peace and stability could be restored one day in their country,” he told the conference”s closing session.
Afghan delegates were jubilant after completing the deal, which is aimed at ending more than two decades of war and civil strife since the 1979 Soviet invasion.
“Maybe it”s not perfect,” said Mostapha Zaher, grandson of the ex-king, whose supporters were one of the four factions. “Under the circumstances it is something honorable, something good. I think the future of Afghanistan looks very bright.”
The Taliban, battling to keep their last stronghold in Afghanistan, denounced the interim administration as “puppets of America.” “Any government imposed on Afghans from abroad can”t be accepted,” Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban”s former ambassador to Pakistan, said.