Afghan leader tries to shore up regime after man-to-man talk in Moscow
Projectng a fresh air of confidence following his recent official visit to the Soviet Union, Afghanistant President Babrak Karmal has begun tightening up his Soviet-backed government amid signals of even more widespread changes ahead.
Since his return three weeks ago, Mr. Karmal had publicly castigated some party and government workers for bribe-taking, factional infighting, inefficiency, and abuse of authority.
Government officials have been ordered to observe the "people's basic rights" and "reolutionary legality." The Afghan leader has sharply reminded activists of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan that the Marxists took power in 1978 to promote the people's well-being, "not for the purpose of enhancing personal glory and the creation of a rich new bureaucratic strata."
From now on, he warned, party members and government officials must measure up to new criteria for advancement: "The pursuance of eternal friendship and solidarity with the Leninist Communist Party of the USSR."
His government has also heaped new powers on party Politburo membr and Education Minister Dr. Anahita Ratebzad, one of Karmal's closest and most trusted associates.
Diplomatic obsevers who closely monitor events in Afghanistan trace the shape-up to Karmal's meetings with Russian leaders.
Although Soviet officials gave him a lavish welcome to emphasize his legitimacy as head of the Afghan government, in private they are believed to have sternly voiced their impatience with the chaotic state of his party, government, and Army.
Since invading Soviet troops installed Karmal in power in late December 1979, the ruling Marxist party has been split by bloody infighting between Karmal's Parcham faction and the Khalq wing. The latter had been loyal to former President Halfizullah Amin, who was executed in the takeover.
The Afghan Army, lead by a predominantly Khalqi office corps, has been reduced to a shadow of its former fighting strength by massive desertions and defections. The estimated 85,000 Soviet troops stationed in Afghanistan now carry most of the burden of fighting the tenacious, antigovernment insurgents who still control the countryside away from major towns and roads.
Karmal's tough language against errant party members and government officials "has been interpreted as another slap at the rival Khalq faction and another indication that many Khalqis will soon be edged from their positions," says a Western diplomat.
An experienced Kabul-watcher from another diplomatic mission adds that many observers see this as a forewarning to Khalqi military commanders in particular.
Throughout the country officials are currently staging meetings to explain and praise Karmal's meetings with the Soviet leadership and the administrative changes adopted by the party and government hierarchy since his return.
The meeting, says an area analyst, are "an attempt to demonstate to the Soviets that the homily they most certainly gave on the inadequacies within the party, military, police, and bureaucracy has been taken to heart."
Observers say it remains to be seen whether the anticorruption and pro-Soviet loyalty drive will have any effect on party harmony and the cause of good government.
Most reports from the Afghan capital are replete with fresh instances of intra-party assassinations, rebel attacks on government officials, and speculation on the latest additions to the purge list.
After a marked lull in fighting during Karmal's journey to Moscow, Soviet and Afghan forces are again launching search-and-destroy missions in four provisions near the capital.
But widespread bombardments of villages and recent instances of particularly brutal slayings are believed more apt to spur rather then dampen the intensely nationalistic resistance to the Karmal government and its Soviet backers.