More than three months since joining in a formal alliance, the seven main Afghan resistance groups have made little progress toward real political and military unity, according to resistance spokesmen and western analysts.
As a result, their violent quarrels continue to impede their cooperation against Soviet and Afghan government forces in Afghanistan, the analysts said.
Under strong pressure from their major backers -- Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United States -- the Afghan guerrilla groups created an alliance called the Islamic Unity of Afghan Mujaheddin last May.
"The leaders of these groups are all proud men," said a western analyst here, "and it's a significant step just to have them sit together in the same room."
"The mujaheddin's supporters have pushed them hard to unify, to speak with a single voice," said a western diplomatic specialist on Afghanistan. "Their squabbling has hurt them militarily in the field and politically in places like the U.N."
But even guerrilla spokesmen such as Isak Gailani of the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan, one of the alliance's constituent groups, concede that real unity remains a distant goal. "The lack of coordination among the parties is still making some problems, and is something we must continue to work on," Gailani said in an interview.
Masood Khalili, spokesman for the Jamiat-i-Islami Party, said, "We didn't think [the alliance] could do very well, because it contains a lot of rivalries and clashing interests." But, he conceded, "some coordination is better than nothing."
The seven main guerrilla groups are both political parties and military organizations. Their differences are sharpest at their top levels, according to western specialists. In addition to personal mistrust among party leaders, they say, the groups are split along ideological and ethnic lines.
The current Islamic Unity of Afghan Mujaheddin is a fragile vehicle for seeking consensus among the parties. The alliance is headed by a supreme council made up of the seven groups' leaders, and the council can act only with the unanimous support of its members.
The council managed last month to take its first unified political stance -- a communique insisting on a guerrilla role in any negotiations toward an Afghan solution.
"The mujaheddin were simply laying a marker of their position, that their views must be considered" in the U.N.-mediated Geneva talks between Pakistan and Afghanistan, a western analyst here said.
Khalili said the guerrillas hope to use the alliance as a magnet for increased foreign aid and as the vehicle for a political campaign to have the Soviet-backed Afghan government removed from its seat at the United Nations.
But western specialists and some independent Afghan intellectuals pointed out that the distribution of aid funds has always been one of the major points of dispute among the parties, and said there is little evidence of a new political will to overcome such divisions.
Cooperation among the various parties seems to work better in the field against the Soviet and Afghan government troops.
"In some provinces, the local commanders from the different parties have quite good coordination, even in planning [joint] attacks against the Russians," said Juma Gul, an Afghan guerrilla at the Kacha Gari refugee camp here. "And in defensive fighting, when the Russians attack, the differences between the factions disappear."
Western observers and Afghan guerrillas said many of the mujaheddin commanders within Afghanistan have shown increasing impatience with the squabbling of their groups' political leaders in Peshawar and suggested that this may have contributed to the formal unification last May. One diplomatic analyst suggested that the increasingly important cleavage within the Afghan movement may become that between those inside Afghan and those based here.
Still, the tribal and personal rivalries among the mujaheddin parties and individual commanders continue to cause fighting within the resistance in Afghanistan. Various guerrilla groups conceded that seven Jamiat-i-Islami officers were gunned down by guerrillas of the Hezb-i-Islami faction led by Gul Badeen Hekmatyar this summer at what was to have been a discussion of joint strategy in and around the strategic Panjshir Valley.
Khalili, the spokesman for Jamiat-i-Islami, accused the Afghan government secret police, the Khad, of having organized the killings. "It shows how [the Soviet and Afghan government] forces have been taking advantage of our disunity," he said.