KABUL, Afghanistan, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- A powerful Afghan mujahedin commander said he is mobilizing forces to defend his country against the Taliban as Western nations withdraw their troops.
Ismail Khan, one of the strongest of a group of warlords who fought the Soviets, is calling on his followers to reorganize and support Afghanistan's national government, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Khan, currently serving as minister of energy and water, began enlisting new recruits and organizing district command structures after rallying thousands of his supporters in the desert outside of Herat.
"We are responsible for maintaining security in our country and not letting Afghanistan be destroyed again," he told a weekend news conference. "There are parts of the country where the government forces cannot operate, and in such areas the locals should step forward, take arms and defend the country."
A spokesman for President Hamid Karzai said Khan's remarks "do not reflect the policies of the Afghan government."