Afghan representative speaks on crisis

The Afghan Northern Alliance representative to the United Nations told a Princeton University audience Friday that the alliance would establish a multi-ethnic, democratic government if it won power in Afghanistan.

Speaking before a capacity audience in Helm Auditorium, Ravan Farhadi asserted that the alliance has been the only consistent opponent of terrorist forces in Afghanistan and repeatedly blamed neighboring Pakistan for his country's troubles.

Farhadi, who has been in exile since the Taliban took power in 1996, also criticized the United States for having "abandoned our country" following the departure of Soviet troops in 1992.

As the Northern Alliance's representative, Farhadi is Afghanistan's only ambassador to the United Nations because most U.N. governments do not recognize the Taliban regime, which rules most the country. The Northern Alliance controls about 10 percent of Afghanistan.

"This war against terrorism and the Taliban was not invented on the seventh of October," Farhadi said in reference to the start of U.S. military attacks in Afghanistan. "It was started in Afghanistan in 1996. And no country helped us."

As a country at the crossroads of Central Asia and the Middle East, Afghanistan has had a history of invasions, which has left it with a diverse population. Because the country has no dominant ethnic group, the key to success for any Afghan government is a commitment to inclusiveness, Farhadi said.

"In Afghanistan, you have to lead a broad-based, multi-ethnic government at all times," Farhadi said.

The Princeton Committee Against Terrorism , a student group, sponsored the talk.

Outside McCosh Hall, another group, the Princeton Peace Network , handed out literature citing U.S. State Department reports that describe human rights violations by the Northern Alliance.

Responding to questions from the audience about allegations of human rights abuses, Farhadi flatly denied any wrongdoing by the Northern Alliance, claiming the accusations are "propaganda" from Pakistan. "What is important is the decision by the United Front to establish a democratic regime," he said.

Contact: Marilyn Marks (609) 258-3601