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Afghanistan doesn’t have N-arms: Zaeef

October 30, 2001

ISLAMABAD Oct 29: The Afghan ambassador in Islamabad, Abdul Salam Zaeef on Monday rebuffed reports that Osama bin Laden possessed nuclear weapons in Afghanistan.

Speaking at a news conference at the Afghan embassy here, he said, “A country which does not even have facilities to manufacture a glass must not be expected to have sophisticated items like nuclear arms.

He told a questioner that some US commandos were definitely held by the Taliban in Kandahar but he was unaware of their exact number.

Zaeef denied that any foreigner, including Britons, were killed in the US airstrikes in Kabul as reported by some papers.

He was unable to tell whether Gen Tommy Franks, commander-in-chief of the US campaign in Afghanistan, visit to Islamabad was likely to entail US ground attack on Afghanistan.

He refuted an impression being given by the US that the Taliban regime would conscript youth from refugee camps, if established inside Afghanistan.

He told a questioner that there was no potential opposition to the execution of the former commander Abdul Haq on the basis of his Pakhtoon ethnicity, but the people were definitely angry with his scheming against the Islamic Emirate on behalf of the US.

He claimed that the US airstrikes, which had hit mostly civilian population, had united the Afghan nation and there was no opposition to the Taliban regime.

Responding to a question whether any American was captured with Abdul Haq, he said, “As far as I know, one or two Americans were with him, but whether anyone of them was arrested or not I am not sure”.

Referring to Hezb-i-Islami chief Hekmatyar’s support to Taliban he said, every faithful was duty-bound to join hands with the Islamic government and Hekmatyar had done his religious duty.

When asked about the thousands of people in Malakand wanting to go into Afghanistan and fight alongside Taliban, he said that although we are in a state of Jihad, we have asked everyone in Pakistan to wait till a ground battle gets underway.

The Afghan diplomat regretted that a London-based Arabic language newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Ausat in its report had branded a Pakhtoon Afghan, Ahmed Ratib, who accompanied him in one of the previous news conferences on Monday with an eye- patch, as Egyptian national and linked him to Al Qaeda, although he was a native of Kandahar city.

Earlier, reading out a written statement, Mohammad Sohail Shaheen deputy ambassador said,”Bush administration says war on Afghanistan had entered a new phase, for, with no significant achievement except the genocide of Afghan civilians in cities of Kandahar, Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif and Herat. However, a wave of anti-American campaign throughout the world was intensifying.

“Reports from Afghanistan speak of continued US air raids on Kabul, Kandahar, and Khwaja Ghar area of Takhar on Monday; Taliban front positions north of Kabul were also being targeted.

What the Pentagon admits as stray bombs is in fact intentional targeting of civilian people, for, highly-trained army like the Americans with such sophisticated systems and mechanism, it was a shame to make so many mistakes.”