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Afghan exiles call for end to bombing

By CNN's Rebecca MacKinnon

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (CNN) -- More than a thousand Afghan opposition leaders have ended a two-day meeting in Pakistan calling for an end to U.S.-led airstrikes.

While the group said they condemned the September 11 attacks, they called on America to stop bombing the ruling Taliban, Islamic militant Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network.

And in a bid to avoid a political vacuum in the central Asian country should the Taliban fall, the 1,500 delegates also endorsed a political blueprint for how the country might be run.

Under the plan, Afghanistan's former king would become head of state and a U.N. security force made up from Islamic states would restore order in the war-ravaged country.

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The conference's organizer Pir Gailani, head of the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan, recommended 87-year-old former King Zahir Shah be lured back from four decades of exile in Italy to be the council's chairman.

The group supported the plan that a caretaker government of technocrats under the ex-king should take over from the Taliban and start drafting an Islamic constitution for the country.

It would also plan a Loya Jirga, or grand assembly, to choose new leaders and restore peace.

In a bid to get a grip on the many fractious ethnic groups in the country, Gailani also proposed that the United Nations play a role.

"During the period of the interim government, a U.N. security force organized from Islamic countries should be deployed in different parts of the country, especially in big cities, to maintain law and order," he said.

This force would hand over its duties after a national army and police force is organized.

The United States has expressed wariness about rushing troops to Kabul before a new leadership emerges.

Peaceful Taliban wanted

Far from ruling out participation of the current ruling Taliban, Gailani said those who want peace should join, with dissenters providing "significant and fruitful" help in the transition to a broad-based government.

Neighboring Pakistan, who has long ties with the ruling Taliban, has won U.S. support for its idea of including what it calls "moderate Taliban" among Kabul's next rulers.

Conference members said they appreciated assistance to Afghan refugees from Pakistan and Iran.

"We hope that the neighboring countries and rest of the world would not close doors on the new Afghan refugees and give due attention to extend necessary assistance to them," according to the resolution.

Delegates to the Conference for Peace and National Unity of Afghanistan included exiled Afghan military commanders, spiritual leaders and community leaders.

Several dozen people from inside Afghanistan also participated. Delegates said moderate Taliban representatives were also present as well as a number of people affiliated with the Northern Alliance, who have fought the Taliban since they took over Kabul in 1996, were also present.


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