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Amanpour: Music plays again in Kabul

(CNN) -- The fate of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan was in dispute Wednesday. The Taliban claimed to still hold the city, but sources in Washington reported that the airport had fallen and there was fighting in the streets.

Meantime, in Kabul, Afghanistan, CNN's Christiane Amanpour filed this report one day after Northern Alliance troops took over the capital.

AMANPOUR: Basically what has happend in this country over the last decade of fighting -- it's a momentum kind of thing. There has been very little actual battles for cities. We've seen that when the Taliban swept up from the south, starting in Kandahar in 1994, and then coming up through various other cities, and then eventually coming up to Kabul in 1996. The opposition sort of melted away.

And that is what seems to be happening this time, in reverse. With the fall of Mazar-e Sharif last Friday, the momentum simply turned completely in the direction of the Northern Alliance. The anti-Taliban forces obviously helped, the United States being the air force in this sort of military situation.

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Coming into Kabul today, we were flown by Northern Alliance helicopter from the Tajik border all the way down, and we were shown by those Alliance helicopters what had happened in the last few days over there. Towns, villages, hills, all held by the Taliban, are now bereft of Taliban and in control of the Northern Alliance.

Once we got here to Kabul, we could see the Northern Alliance in control. Markets were bustling, shops were open again, music was being played again. I can't emphasize how important that is, because music was one of those things that was banned by the Taliban in all of the places they controlled over the past five years.

Women were coming out here, as well. They have not all shed the burqa. One shouldn't expect them to do that because the burqa is a traditional dress for many people here. But those who were forced into the all-enveloping burqa, we're probably going to see them start to take that off.

Life here is reverting to what was life was just before the Taliban took over back in 1996.

CNN: The Northern Alliance troops you talked with -- how willing are they to work with Pashtun anti-Taliban forces?

AMANPOUR: I think there is a slight difference between the troops and the political leadership. The political leadership is very clear. They say they want a political structure to be formed. They want a united front, if you like, a representative group to govern Afghanistan, because they know very well that it's not possible to do so when you're just a minority.

On the other hand, the military has been very fired up by not only the weeks of American bombing that have allowed them to capitalize on this sort of territorial shift; but now they're back in Kabul and they're on street corners and in quite large numbers.

But they've been very careful up till now. There has been none of these mass killings or revenge killings that everyone was afraid of and some people predicted. That has not happened. Yes, there have been some arrests, according to the Northern Alliance forces here, of what they called the Arab Foreign Legion, the many Arab fighters from all over the world.

We can't independently confirm that. But so far, things seem to be in a state of calm and order here.

CNN: Are they reacting at all to the Pashtun anti-Taliban victories in the south?

AMANPOUR: Well, here, they're just trying to figure out what's going on. Everybody's glued to their radios. This was going on as we were driving into Kabul after we had been dropped from the helicopter. There were reports on the radio of the Pashtun tribal leaders who have now managed to assert their authority down south of Kabul in the Jalalabad area.

But we were also hearing that the Northern Alliance was trying to make political deals to the Pashtun leaders, to gather them as part of what might be an eventual coalition. That apparently has not yet happened.

We have also heard from people here that they want to see (deposed king) Zahir Shah come back. They're all very concerned that some kind of political structure is formed, although traditionally, Afghanistan has not been ruled as a very strong central government. Most of the daily activities and what goes on in daily lives does tend to be ruled from tribes and the tribal leaders.


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