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Carol Lin: Taliban losing power to tribes

(CNN) -- Afghan tribal leaders have gathered in Quetta, Pakistan, in hopes of persuading the fundamentalist Taliban militia to relinquish power after more than five weeks of U.S. air raids.

CNN's Carol Lin filed this report from Quetta.

LIN: A meeting of Afghan tribal leaders here in Quetta has been sending a series of delegations into Kandahar to try to persuade senior members of the Taliban, including the Taliban spiritual leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, to give up their fight. But there are conflicting reports coming out of Kandahar as to exactly who is in charge.

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Today, we spoke with Mullah Mulang. He is a tribal elder, part of this Afghan elder effort inside of Kandahar. He is also a former Pashtun commander.

Mullah Mulang tells us Omar has changed Kandahar's leadership and given control to his deputies, Haji Bashar and Mullah Nakib -- both members of the Pashtun tribe. This is seen by Afghan tribal elders meeting across the border in Quetta as a strategic move to pacify these Pashtun tribesmen who are threatening to oust the Taliban by force.

Eighty Afghan tribal leaders, mostly former commanders in the war against the Soviets, sent a second delegation today to warn the Taliban that if they do not surrender, the Afghan leaders will rally thousands of their armed tribesmen in Afghanistan and go to war.

Pakistani political analyst Dr. Mansoor Kundi says historically, tribal law rules Afghanistan when there is chaos. Mullah Mulang, known for fierce and brutal war tactics, says the future of Afghanistan depends on a peaceful transfer of power. He says fighting is "the very last resort," but the Taliban must surrender.

And we just got an update on the political situation inside of Kandahar. One of the men that I mentioned to you, Haji Bashar, who is in charge of Kandahar right now -- an associate of Mullah Omar -- is also a Norzai tribesman, highly respected. What we are learning that is happening right now inside of Kandahar is that the Norzai tribe is holding its own council meeting, a council of elders meeting called a shura.

What they have done, and what we are witnessing, according to this source, is that tribal law is now beginning to take over inside of Kandahar, trumping Taliban authority. The Norzai tribe is now delegating authority within the different provinces right around Kandahar.

What this means is, you technically have a member of the Taliban who is acting as the administrative head of Kandahar, but who is working with his own tribe in trying to divvy up power in that area. Clearly, the Taliban may very well be losing control of the city as we speak.


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