Politics, World, Asia - Pacific

Hekmatyar vows to stand by Kabul amid political turmoil

Hezb-e-Islami leader warns against any moves to forcefully overrun Ghani-led Afghan government

Hekmatyar vows to stand by Kabul amid political turmoil KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - JUNE 08: The leader of the Hezb-e Islami party, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar speaks during his first press conference, in Kabul, Afghanistan on June 08, 2017. ( Haroon Sabawoon - Anadolu Agency )

By Shadi Khan Saif

KABUL, Afghanistan

Amid tense political and security situation in Afghanistan, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, chief of the Hezb-e-Islami party, warned Thursday against any moves to dismantle the National Unity Government (NUG) or overrun the presidential palace, Arg.

Addressing his first press conference at his new residence in Kabul following his landmark return after some 20 years of self-imposed exile, the former Mujahedeen leader reaffirmed his support for the NUG.

"No one can take power by force. Every Afghan has the right to make demands but not to close roads," he said in clear reference to the sit-in camps erected in a number of localities in Kabul since Saturday with the backing of the Jamiat-e-Islami party - main ally of President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in the coalition government.

Following last week's deadly truck bombing in the capital which killed up to 150 people and left more than 400 wounded, protest demonstrations against the government have erupted in a number of provinces.

The Jamiat-e-Islami party in particular has stepped up its pressure on Ghani while demanding sacking of the security ministers among other demands.

"Trying to take the Arg through the use of weapons was a mistake and this should not be repeated," he said in clear reference to the civil war in the 1990s when factions of the Afghan Mujahedeen got engaged in deadly clashes among themselves for power.

Hekmatyar noted that the citizens of the country had the right to raise their voice on matters related to their lives, but any move to undermine the law and order, and bids to overthrow the government would not be allowed.

He urged Afghanistan's neighbors to help promote peace in the conflict-riddled country instead of promoting the conflict. He also expressed his concerns about the growing rift among the Gulf countries and the latest terrorist attack in Tehran.

Hekmatyar was warmly welcomed by tens of thousands of his supporters in Kabul upon his return last month. Addressing a gathering organized for him at the Arg by President Ghani on May 4, the 69-year-old vowed to mediate between the Taliban and the government, as well as among factions of the NUG in Kabul.

Hezb-e-Islami has been a traditional ally of Jamiat-e-Islami, both right-wing parties emerging from the anti-Soviet resistance in the 1980s.

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