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Sunday, 7 July, 2002, 20:58 GMT 21:58 UK
Murdered Afghan minister buried
Qadir's coffin is carried to a helicopter for the flight to Jalalabad
Prayers for Qadir were said in Kabul's main mosque
Afghanistan has buried its Vice-President Haji Abdul Qadir, whose assassination on Saturday has underlined the difficulty of re-establishing stability after decades of conflict.

Mourners march in Kabul with Qadir's coffin which was then flown to Jalalabad
Thousands marched with the coffin in Kabul
Seven shots were fired in the air, as the coffin bearing Qadir's body - draped with the Afghan flag - was lowered into a burial plot at the Amir Shaheed mosque in his home city of Jalalabad, in the east of the country.

About 10,000 people gathered at the funeral, with many of the male mourners weeping openly and chanting Qadir's name in unison.

Earlier, thousands of people said prayers for the dead minister at the main mosque in the capital, including fellow members of the cabinet, other mujahideen commanders and dignitaries.

If they can't keep security for their own people, their ministers, what can the government do?

Dead minister's brother

Qadir - one of few prominent members of the majority Pashtun community in the government - was shot dead by unidentified gunmen as he left his office in Kabul.

His body was flown by a helicopter to Jalalabad, where Qadir wielded great power. Also taken for burial was his son-in-law, who drove the car which was ambushed.

Hard to replace

The BBC's Rahimullah Yusufzai reports that, in the wake of the killing, Pashtun leaders have renewed demands for the ethnic make-up of the government to resemble more closely that of the country.

They want more Pashtuns instead of the current Tajik monopoly - a cause also promoted by Qadir.

Qadir's brother Din Mohamed voiced fears over the ability of the government led by Hamid Karzai to maintain security.

"If they don't pay attention there will be problems. If they can't keep security for their own people, their ministers, what can the government do?" he said in a BBC interview.

Afghan police guard the assassinated minister's car
It is not known who is behind the killing

The Afghan Government has set up a commission to investigate the killing which it called a "terrorist attack", and has declared a day of national mourning for Qadir on Tuesday.

President Hamid Karzai made Qadir one of his vice-presidents last month after Pashtun complaints that the government was dominated by ethnic Tajiks from the Northern Alliance which fought the Taleban and al-Qaeda.

Qadir was a powerful military and political figure with large business interests in eastern Afghanistan.

There is no obvious successor to his power base. Another brother - commander Abdul Haq - was captured and executed by the Taleban as the movement was being chased out of power last autumn.

There is also no word so far about who might succeed him as vice-president or as minister of public works - an influential post because of the large amounts of money being spent on major reconstruction projects in Afghanistan.

The Pashtun community in Afghanistan was the power base of the ousted Taleban regime and there are concerns that the assassination could destabilise the eastern provinces.

Qadir had powerful friends who may wish to take revenge, the BBC's Kate Clark reports from Kabul.

From Bin Laden to Bonn

Our correspondent says Qadir was a man shrouded in controversy.

He first achieved fame as a mujahideen commander during the war against the Soviets in the 1980s.
Haji Abdul Qadir
Qadir was a rare Pashtun voice in the government

Having made his money exporting goods to Pakistan, he was the first Afghan host to al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, letting him use a network of caves in the east after he left Sudan.

He went on to become one of the few prominent Pashtuns to join the Tajik and Uzbek-dominated Northern Alliance.

Sudden attack

In the attack on Saturday, two gunmen leapt from behind bushes and sprayed Qadir's car with dozens of bullets from assault rifles fired at point-blank range.

The vice-president was shot through the head and his driver was also killed.

The killers made their escape in a car despite a major security operation launched in the city.
Attacks on the Afghan Government
July: Haji Abdul Qadir, vice-president and minister of public works, shot and killed
April: Four civilians die in bomb attack aimed at Defence Minister Mohammad Fahim
February: Civil Aviation Minister Abdul Rahman killed in controversial circumstances

A spokesman for President Karzai, himself a Pashtun, said he was upset at losing a "prominent member of his government and a Pashtun".

There has been international condemnation of the assassination.

President Bush and the French government both said it made them more determined than ever to help build stability in Afghanistan.

The Turkish-led international peacekeeping force rejected suggestions the murder reflected badly on them.

"Isaf is not responsible for providing close protection," spokesman Colonel Samet Oz was quoted as saying.

The BBC's Kate Clark reports from Kabul
"Haji Qadir's death leaves a power vacuum in the east of Afghanistan"
US President George W Bush
"Our country mourns the loss of a man who desired freedom and stability"


Political uncertainty






See also:

07 Jul 02 | South Asia
06 Jul 02 | South Asia
30 Nov 01 | South Asia
29 Oct 01 | South Asia
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