Pakistan's Attempt at a Political Solution, 1987-88

Afghanistan Table of Contents

Pakistan was the only protagonist in a position to convince the mujahidin otherwise. Its intimate relationship with the parties it hosted had shaped their war and their politics. Their dependence on Pakistan for armaments, training, funding and sanctuary had been nearly total. But by 1987, the politics of Pakistan's foreign policy had fragmented. The Foreign Ministry was working with Diego Cordovez to devise a formula for a "neutral" government. President Zia ul Haq was adamantly convinced that a political solution favoring the mujahidin was essential and worked strenuously to convince the United States and the Soviet Union. Riaz Muhammad Khan argues that disagreement within the military and with Zia's increasingly independent prime minister, Muhammad Khan Junejo, deflected Zia's efforts. When Gorbachev announced a Soviet withdrawal without a peace settlement at his Washington meeting with President Reagan on December 10, 1987, the chance for a political agreement was lost. All the protagonists were then caught up in the rush to complete the Geneva process.

In the end the Soviets were content to leave the possibilities of reconciliation to Najibullah and to shore him up with massive material support. He had made an expanded reconciliation offer to the resistance in July, 1987 including twenty seats in State (formerly Revolutionary) Council, twelve ministries and a possible prime ministership and Afghanistan's status as a Muslim, nonaligned state. Military, police, and security powers were not mentioned. The offer still fell far short of what even the moderate mujahidin parties would accept.

Najibullah then reorganized his government to face the mujahidin alone. A new constitution took effect in November, 1987. Afghanistan was renamed a republic, the State Council was replaced by a National Assembly for which "progressive parties" could freely compete. Mir Hussein Sharq, a non-party politician, was named prime minister. Najibullah's presidency was given Gaulist powers and longevity. He was promptly elected to a seven-year term. On paper, Afghan government appeared far more democratic than Daud had left it, but its popular support remained questionable.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress