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Kabul Calls Truce Rebuff 'a Crime Against People'

January 19, 1987|WILLIAM J. EATON | Times Staff Writer

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan leader Najib warned Sunday that rebel chiefs' rejection of his cease-fire offer will prolong a seven-year-old war and keep Soviet troops in the country indefinitely.

Najib said it was "a crime against the people" of Afghanistan for the moujahedeen guerrillas to spurn his government's six-month truce proposal, as they did Saturday at a meeting in Peshawar, Pakistan.

But he told a news conference that "final victory is near" for government forces, aided by an estimated 115,000 Soviet troops, in the bloody civil war.

The Kabul regime offered the cease-fire only to prevent "useless sacrifices" and spur a new campaign for national reconciliation, Najib said.

He spoke as evidence grew that the cease-fire has been frequently violated since it was undertaken last Thursday on a unilateral basis by the Kabul government.

Asked why Soviet armored vehicles were unexpectedly stationed at key government buildings and major intersections on Friday night, Najib said that the cease-fire does not mean a halt to all military activity.

He suggested that the action was taken to guard against a possible attack by rebel forces trying to show contempt for the cease-fire.

But he brushed aside any suggestion that the precautions were prompted by concern over a split inside the ruling party, contending that the party is now more unified than ever.

A bull-necked, broad-shouldered man who took over last May from the deposed Babrak Karmal, Najib answered written and oral questions from foreign correspondents invited to cover the start of the cease-fire.

Soviet correspondents had a text of some of his replies, translated into Russian, before he began to speak.

At one point, he displayed a bullet-scarred copy of the Koran, the sacred book of Islam, and said a rebel bullet had pierced it, showing lack of respect for the faith practiced by 90% of all Afghans.

Najib lavishly praised the Soviet Union, saying that its assistance to the Afghan government has no parallel in the history of civilization.

Praise for Soviets

And he said that the Soviet troops who entered the country in the final days of 1979 to install Karmal in power will not leave while the rebels are supported by foreign powers, including the United States.

Speaking of the rebel leaders' refusal to join the cease-fire until Soviet troops leave Afghanistan, he said: "It's a great political mistake. We can say this action is a crime against the people."

Later, he added, "We will continue our policy (of national reconciliation), but if the enemies continue the war, we will have to combat them with all the might and power of our armed forces."

As Najib spoke, U.S. and Soviet officials were in Islamabad, Pakistan, to discuss efforts to end the Afghan conflict.

Under Secretary of State Michael H. Armacost met with Pakistani officials on Sunday, but no details were released. On the Soviet side, Anatoly Gavrilovich Kovalev, first deputy foreign minister, was scheduled to talk with the Pakistanis today.

Dialogue Proposed

Najib has proposed a dialogue with leaders of armed bands who have been conducting a guerrilla war against the Kabul government, suggesting that they join in a coalition government.

He said again Sunday, however, that the ruling People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan will continue its role of providing the main "political guidance" for the regime, even if other groups participate in the government.

Rebel leaders, showing unusual unanimity for a change, derided the cease-fire and national reconciliation program as a "trick" to perpetuate Communist-style rule in the country. Seven of them took part in the rally of guerrillas and Afghan refugees at the border city.

Some Western diplomats in Kabul said that Najib and his Soviet allies appear to be seeking a propaganda advantage by proposing a cease-fire that they knew would be rejected.

Millions of Refugees

But Najib insisted that his nation is war-weary and that refugees, whom he said number two million, are eager to come home as part of the reconciliation program.

Officials in Pakistan and Iran have estimated that 4 million to 5 million people have fled Afghanistan during the long war.

The sooner the refugees return, Najib said, the sooner the Soviet forces will go home.

As for Karmal, who resigned last November as the Afghan president, Najib said he is living in Kabul, on pension, attending to his personal affairs.

Soviet tanks and armored personnel carriers appeared on the streets in force last May when Najib was named to replace Karmal as general secretary of the People's Democratic Party. At the time, demonstrators demanded Karmal's return to power and denounced Najib.

Violation List Planned

At his news conference, Najib declined to give details about any violation in the unilateral truce. He said that a full list will soon be published and broadcast, suggesting that the cease-fire has fallen short of its goal in the first 72 hours.

The cease-fire is only a part of the reconciliation program, Najib said, adding that the goal of national unity is like a distant mountain peak.

"Sometimes you go directly, sometimes you zig zag, and sometimes you go backward to get around obstacles in the path," Najib said.

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