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Hekmatyar urges US, NATO to help curb foreign meddling

Hezb-e-Islami chief says Afghan government’s foreign allies should not trust 'pro-Tehran and pro-Moscow' elements

05.08.2017
Hekmatyar urges US, NATO to help curb foreign meddling FILE PHOTO - Gulbuddin Hekmatyar

By Shadi Khan Saif

KABUL, Afghanistan 

The leader of the right-wing Hezb-e-Islami political party, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, has urged the U.S. and NATO member states to help end foreign meddling in Afghanistan that he claims is responsible for prolonging the deadly conflict.

Speaking to a group of foreign journalists at his office in western Kabul Saturday, Hekmatyar compared the current stalemate on the war front in Afghanistan with the last days of former-Soviet backed regime in the country in the late 1980s, and urged the Afghan government’s foreign allies not to trust “pro-Tehran and pro-Moscow” elements in the country.

“The fact of the matter is that the Afghan war can neither be won with the deployment of additional foreign troops nor with the current war strategy,” he said, adding that triumph in this regard would require change in the war strategy and structure of the armed forces.

He called for de-politicization of the Afghan armed forces and a stronger central government.

He criticized the current Afghan government as being too weak.

Last month, protesters took to the streets in various parts of the country following Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s opposition towards construction of dams in Afghanistan.

Hekmatyar had earlier raised concerns about “thousands of Afghans” being reportedly sent to Syria to fight alongside Irani forces.

He said a number of foreign diplomats, including the Russian ambassador on Friday came to meet him following his return to Kabul after nearly 20 years of self-imposed exile, but the U.S. ambassador was yet to meet him.

“We are ready to have friendly ties with those who refrain from interfering in Afghan affairs and recognize Afghanistan as an independent and sovereign country,” he said in response to a question about his party’s policy towards the U.S. and NATO.

The armed conflict in Afghanistan, which is in its 16th year, started with the fall of the Taliban regime in the late 2001 and has claimed tens of thousands of lives in the country.

The war-riddled country has seen violence for decades since the Soviet invasion in 1979.

The nascent Afghan National Defense and Security Forces established with the support of the U.S. and NATO have been struggling since in the wake of ragging armed insurgency by the Taliban and a number of other armed groups.

Hekmatyar, who briefly served as the country’s prime minister after the Soviet withdrawal and subsequent civil war, said if the U.S. and NATO helped curb foreign military and political interference, Afghanistan could overcome rest of its problems on its own.

After inking a landmark peace deal with the Afghan government in September last year, Hekmatyar had promised to play his part in bringing the Taliban to the negotiation table.

“Yes, we are working on it [bringing the Taliban to talks], but if the government creates enabling environment a large number of armed militants would join the peace process,” he said, adding a major faction of the armed rebels had no other option but to fight, and if their legitimate demands were accepted they would follow the path to peace; however, he added that another faction of the militants was serving foreign interests, and would only give up when support for them from outside was curbed.

Of late, three political parties backed by minority ethnic groups with its leadership part of the National Unity Government (NUG) in Kabul have joined hands against President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.

Hezb-e-Islami chief also charged leaders of a newly-formed opposition alliance for indulging in ethnic politics on the directives of foreign powers -- a claim the alliance formed by Vice President Abdul Rasheed Dostum, Balkh province Governor Atta Mohammad Noor and deputy to the chief executive officer of the NUG Mohammad Mohaqeq rejects.

Hekmatyar renewed his warning that no one would be allowed to seek power by force.

He said Hezb-e-Islami would take part in the upcoming parliamentary elections with full force, but refrained from openly expressing his views about the presidential elections.

Hekmatyar also reiterated his criticism of the U.S.-brokered deal between the 2014 presidential election rivals -- current president Ghani and his power-sharing Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah -- that led to the formation of NUG in Kabul. He vowed to support the NUG for bringing peace and stability in the country.

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