Aga Khan Says U.N. Should Mould Future Afghanistan

Story Filed: Wednesday, October 31, 2001 8:13 AM EST

PARIS (Reuters) - The Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslim community, said in a French newspaper interview on Wednesday that the United Nations should steer the reconstruction of a pluralist civil society in Afghanistan.

As head of a disparate Ismaili community of about 15 million people, including followers in Afghanistan, the Aga Khan said Muslims and non-Muslims should work together to rebuild the country if the ruling Taliban government tumbles.

``The coordination (of reconstruction efforts) and the implementation should be the responsibility of the United Nations,'' the Aga Khan told French daily newspaper Le Monde.

The United Nations has expressed skepticism about running Afghanistan if the U.S. bombing campaign against the fundamentalist Taliban leads to its removal and replacement by a broad-based Afghan coalition.

The Aga Khan said that while the diversity of Islamic interpretations and traditions should be protected by law, he did not consider a theocratic state to be a good basis for a future government in Afghanistan.

``It is a question which the Afghans will have to address in time,'' he said.

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