Iran, Turkey in bid to
regroup their lackeys
The Frontier Post, August 4,1998

PESHAWAR - In the wake of Taliban's blitzkrieg across northern Afghanistan, Turkey and Iran are trying to keep afloat Jumbish-i-Milli Islami (JMI), sources here said Tuesday. Led by Uzbek warlord General Abdur Rashid Dostum, the Jumbish forces have apparently fallen apart following Dostum's disappearance from his northern military headquarters, Shiberghan. Sources said both Iran and Turkey have launched a bid to bring the scattered Uzbek forces under a new central command, probably led by Gen Abdul Malik.

Malik's younger brother, Gul Mohammad Pahlawan, has been tasked to regroup the Uzbek forces, and so far some 5,000 Uzbek warriors have joined him on various fronts around the northern cities and towns, the sources said. Reports reaching here from the north suggest that guerrilla attacks by these men have already started in the Taliban-held cities of Shiberghan, Sur-i-Pol and Maimanah. It may be mentioned that Gul Pahlawan is also a member of the defence committee recently constituted by the Northern Alliance to defend northern Afghanistan. His elder brother, Gen Malik, briefly led Jumbish in May 1997 when the Taliban, supported by the Malik-led faction, captured Mazar-i-Sharif, sending Dostum into exile first in Uzbekistan, and later in Turkey.

Malik was toppled by Dostum later the same year, when Dostum returned to Afghanistan following the Taliban's ouster from Mazar by the mainly Hazara Hezb-i-Wahdat forces, and the weakening of Malik due to subsequent Taliban raids from their northern base in Kundoz. Following his ouster from Mazar, Malik moved to Iran, and later to Turkey where he still resides. Meanwhile, diplomatic activity in the region has picked up following the Taliban's victories in northern Afghanistan, reports reaching here said Tuesday. Radio Tehran, monitored here, said a senior official of the Russian foreign office called on the ambassadors of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan in Moscow Tuesday to discuss the emerging situation in Afghanistan. It further said that senior Tajikistan and Uzbekistan officials met with the Iranian representatives in Dushambe and Tashkent Tuesday to hod consultations.

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