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Carol Lin: Tribal leaders' ultimatum to Taliban

CNN's Carol Lin
CNN's Carol Lin  

QUETTA, Pakistan (CNN) -- As the Taliban refuse to leave strongholds Konduz and Kandahar, tribal leaders have been meeting in Pakistan and across the southern Afghan provinces to determine the next steps for a new government.

Based in Quetta, CNN's Carol Lin has more on those talks and an ultimatum demanding the Taliban give up the fight.

LIN: We are hearing from these Afghan Pashtun leaders that their diplomatic effort with the Taliban in Kandahar is now officially breaking down. They have set a new deadline for the Taliban and leader Mullah Mohammad Omar -- give up your control of the city or the Pashtun tribal leaders will wage war as soon as this weekend.

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We are also finding that tribal law is now taking precedence in much of southern Afghanistan. Yousaf Pashtun, a tribal spokesman, said, "There is no legal government" to recognize in Afghanistan.

"The only way to avoid further bloodshed ... is to have a government elected," Pashtun said.

Pashtun called for a grand counsel of tribal elders to make decisions in many parts of southern Afghanistan. CNN spoke with the Taliban in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Monday, and the Taliban still insist they have control of the city of Kandahar, and they have control of the provinces surrounding Kandahar.

Essentially what we are seeing over the last several days is a slow transition of power. What we're seeing is anti-Taliban forces making slow and steady gains. We are hearing of pockets of local Taliban commanders cutting deals with tribal leaders based on the question, "What's in it for me?"

And we're also seeing a series of meetings between tribal elders throughout southern Afghanistan as they take pockets of power from the Taliban.

We're also learning that the Taliban is not necessarily monolithic, that many of these fighters in the southern provinces are trying to figure out what their forces are going to do next. They're trying to essentially save their own skin. It's a question of commitment vs. survival.

But the big question is ... what will Mullah Omar do? Will he retreat to the hills and give up control? Or will he in fact fight to the death?

For many of his fundamentalist supporters, that is what they are looking for in terms of seeing what will happen in the future in southern Afghanistan.


• Afghan refugees fleeing Konduz
November 19, 2001

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