A powerful coalition of Afghan guerrilla, troop, and militia commanders have assembled north of Kabul and are preparing to replace what is left of the weakened government in the capital, reporters returning from the opposition stronghold said yesterday.
The coalition of forces, headed by Ahmad Shah Masood, the most powerful of the mujahideen rebel commanders, wants a peaceful takeover of Kabul and is prepared to negotiate the departure of the present government, the reporters said.
Mr. Masood is joined by two defecting militia commanders, Abdul Rashid Dostum and Sayeed Jaffar Noderi, as well as Gen. Abdul Mumin who led a mutiny in January. The combination makes up the most powerful army in Afghanistan.
Foreign Minister Abdul Wakil, his government weakened and encircled, held talks with Masood Friday and Saturday in the guerrilla camp.
But the six Western reporters who returned from the area of Jabalsarraj, about 40 miles north of Kabul, said it was clear that Mr. Wakil was in no position to negotiate.
Masood, an ethnic Tajik from northern Afghanistan, famous for his fierce resistance to Soviet troops before they left in 1989, told the reporters he intended to form a mujahideen government in Kabul.
Leaders of the new alliance, called the Islamic Jihad Council, met in Jabalsarraj Saturday. Columns of armored personnel carriers and some tanks stood by.
Masood told reporters he had in the past invited United Nations special envoy Benon Sevan to meet him but that no talks had taken place.
Diplomats in Kabul said Mr. Sevan's attempts to form an interim council that would bring together government and guerrilla leaders seemed irrelevant in the face of the powerful forces assembled outside Kabul.
The alliance effectively controls all of northern Afghanistan.
Crucial now to the two million people of Kabul is the role that will be played by hard-line fundamentalist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a bitter enemy of Masood. Mr. Hekmatyar's forces are gathering to the south of Kabul while their leader is said to be on his way to the area.