A KEY aim of the US attack on Afghanistan is to intensify the civil war that has already claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. The forces of the 'Northern Alliance' were informed of the timing of the first air strikes and began shelling areas held by the Taliban. The Northern Alliance is composed of rival groups.
The US and Britain are looking to them and their counterparts from the south of the country to overthrow the Taliban. Among the Northern Alliance leaders are:
The man who appears to be the West's favoured choice is Abdul Haq. He is a commander from the Pushtun ethnic group, the largest in Afghanistan, concentrated in the south and east of the country. He met Margaret Thatcher twice during the 1980s. He comes from a powerful landowning family. The West and Pakistan want him to ensure that powerful figures amongst the Pushtuns, who are also the group the Taliban draw their support from, maintain their traditional grip on power.
The West is also talking about reimposing the deposed king on Afghanistan. King Zahir Shah was overthrown in 1973. He was enjoying a luxurious stay in Italy while tens of thousands of Afghans were starving due to famine. He had been in power for 40 years and not developed the country.