Legendary Afghani leader Ismail Khan is moving against the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, considered the spiritual capital of the Taliban movement, according to news reports from Pakistan.
Khan, who gained his reputation as defender of Herat during a Russian siege, is being supported by US Special Forces units in his march toward the city. Two Taliban ministers and the governor of a major province have promised him support if he captures the city. If an attempt to topple Mulla Omar, the leader of the Taliban, succeeds, moderates within Afghanistan will invite the former king, Zahir Shah, to set up a new government through the use of a Loya Jirga, or grand assembly, the traditional Afghan means of selecting a new national government.
The last time Afghanistan knew peace was under the reign of the former king, who was deposed by a jealous cousin in 1973, setting of a series of conflicts that led to a communist takeover in Kabul, the Russian invasion, the Mujahedeen resistance, and eventually the Taliban.
It is believed that President Bush approved Khan’s move toward Kandahar and the effort to reinstate the king at Camp David on Saturday.
A delegation of US congressmen met with the king at his villa in Rome on Sunday, and he indicated that he would be willing to return. Mulla Omar accused the US of trying to organize a “puppet government.” He added, “if the king triies to come back to Afghansitan, he has chosen his destruction.”Unknowncountry.com reported the possible return of the king on September 24.
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