YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Kabul Urges Refugees to Return, Live in Peace

January 16, 1987|WILLIAM J. EATON | Times Staff Writer

KABUL, Afghanistan — Najib, the Afghan leader, appealed Thursday to millions of Afghan refugees to come home and live in peace.

Najib also announced an amnesty for army deserters and a release of prisoners as part of a national reconciliation effort.

He acted during the first full day of a cease-fire being observed by the Afghan armed forces and the Soviet troops supporting them. The truce is the first in the government's seven-year-long guerrilla war with anti-Communist Muslim rebels known as moujahedeen.

Defense Ministry officials said the Afghan armed forces and the estimated 115,000 Soviet troops in the country have returned to their barracks and are taking no part in offensive operations.

But there seemed to be little likelihood that the cease-fire would endure. Diplomatic sources in Kabul said late Thursday that they had already received reports of sporadic fighting.

Rebels Continue Fighting

And in neighboring Pakistan, where many of the guerrilla units are based, guerrilla commanders said their forces were carrying on as usual. Some said they had intensified their operations to show contempt for the Afghan government's unilateral cease-fire.

The Associated Press quoted one rebel leader, Sayed Hamed Gailani, as saying: "The cease-fire is immaterial. We do not recognize the regime in Kabul, so any proposal from their side is immaterial."

Najib said that Kabul and Moscow have reached agreement on the withdrawal of the Soviet forces, which were sent to Afghanistan seven years ago to prop up the Marxist government. He gave no details, and said a Soviet pullout will depend on what the rebels do.

Some Western analysts said the cease-fire and related declarations appeared to be an effort to score propaganda gains.

In Washington, White House spokesman Albert R. Brashear said that offers of a Soviet troop withdrawal to be conducted "after the acceptance of a cease-fire by the freedom fighters is an empty gesture that can only be seen as a propaganda ploy," the AP reported.

The State Department said that Under Secretary Michael H. Armacost is going to Pakistan to help coordinate a response to the call for a truce and a possible political settlement.

Najib spoke at the second congress of the National Fatherland Front, an alliance of political parties, mass organizations and tribal bodies of which the ruling People's Democratic Party is the guiding force.

His main theme dealt with the people--estimates range from 4 million to 5 million--who have fled their homes in Afghanistan and taken refuge in Pakistan or Iran.

Najib urged all Afghans to "take into your hands the destiny of national reconciliation. . . . Afghanistan should and will become the common homeland of all our compatriots living all over the world."

Offers Incentives

He announced a series of incentives, including tax write-offs and cancellation of farm loans. Land taxes, he said, will not be collected from returned refugees for a full year.

Young men, he said, will be given a six-month exemption from military service. He promised to help returning refugees find homes and jobs, and he said interrupted pension benefits will be restored.

Najib announced a blanket amnesty for everyone sentenced to prison for less than five years and for all those who were convicted of a crime committed before the age of 18. All prisoners over the age of 60 will be freed, he said.

But he added that, except for a limited number of cases, those convicted of terrorism or espionage will not be covered by the amnesty.

"We can put an end to the bloodshed," Najib said, ". . . and rapidly ensure national reconciliation." He called on those who have taken refuge abroad to "follow the noble example" of those who have returned.

On the question of a Soviet withdrawal, Najib, who is 39 and came to power last May, said the two governments have "reached agreements paving the ground for the complete return of the limited contingent of the Soviet Union to their peace-loving country."

"Future measures (by) the Soviet Union and Afghanistan," he added, "will . . . depend on steps taken by the other side. We expect those who have imposed the war on our people . . . to demonstrate reasonableness, to cease aggression against our country from outside and provide international guarantees for its non-resumption. . . ."

Los Angeles Times Articles