HIA upbeat about peace parleys
KABUL (PAN): The Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA), the second largest militant group after the Taliban, is optimistic about the outcome of peace talks, says its representatives have held meetings with the US ambassador and NATO civilian and military officials in Kabul.
Led by former prime minister and jihadi leader, Gulbadin Hekmatyar, the HIA representatives held talks with President Hamid Karzai and High Peace Council members last month.
Karzai confirmed the negotiations during his address to Parliament, hoping the process would continue and produce positive results. He made the announcement hours before his meeting with US Special Representative Marc Grossman on ways of ending the Taliban insurgency.
The HIA political office head in Europe, Qaribur Rahman Saeed, on Wednesday told Pajhwok Afghan News their delegation had held meetings with the US ambassador to Afghanistan, NATO's civilian representatives and military officials during its recent visit to Kabul.
He said they had also established contacts with US officials at different levels on the prospects for peace and stability in Afghanistan. "We have not yet received any acceptable proposal from Americans for the country's stability and independence, or plans that could encourage the HIA."
Optimistic that their contracts would finally come to fruition, he said their talks with the Americans had not entered a stage where they could publicly discuss the details.
Weeks ago, the Taliban offered to open a political office in Qatar for possible talks with the United States and other countries. After a brief silence, the Karzai administration announced its agreement, but insisted on a lead role for the Afghans.
Saeed said the meetings between the Taliban and the US had a long history that was finally exposed in the shape of a political bureau for the insurgents in Doha. He acknowledged the US-Taliban parleys had raised hopes for peace, but the success of their negotiations was linked to sincerity on both sides.
"The peace talks can succeed only when all groups, including Taliban and HIA, agree on a joint strategy before entering a dialogue with the US and the internationally community," he said.
Saeed said the HIA viewed the ongoing war as disastrous for Afghanistan and had always condemned it. He insisted the war had been imposed on the country by outsiders. HIA leader Gulbadin Hekmatyar, through letters, media and other channels, had been telling the US and NATO that war was no solution to the problem, he said.
According to Saeedi, Hekmatyar believes the only solution is a complete withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and the conduct of a free election to establish an Islamic government.
He asked all political forces and civil society organisations to join hands to evolve a comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan's better future.
He pointed out the 15-article resolution presented to the Afghan government and the international community by the party contained no power-sharing condition. Any change of government should come through elections, he suggested.
Seeking the unconditional release of all prisoners from Guantanamo Bay and Bagram detention centres, he said the HIA's plan in this regard was open to discussion. "No one has so far provided any alternative or amendments."
About neighbours' role, particularly of Pakistan and Iran, he believed regional countries could be of assistance in stabilising in Afghanistan.
On the prospects of talks between the Taliban and the US in Qatar, he said even if the process failed, HIA was hoped for a better future for Afghanistan. "We believe the US and NATO have realised that the only solution to the ongoing conflict was dialogue with fighters."
Critical of a recent meeting of some Afghan figures with US lawmakers in Berlin on a federal system in Afghanistan, he said: "There is no doubt that some elements will work on dividing Afghans."
Those who participated in the meeting did not represent the nation, he said, adding a few US senators and Afghans could not succeed in their nefarious designs. HIA would not allow anybody to divide the nation of Afghanistan, he pledged.
On January 9, ex-vice president Ahmad Zia Masoud, Junbish-i-Millie party chief Abdul Rashid Dostum and Hezb-i-Wahdat leader Mohammad Mohaqiq met some US lawmakers in Germany.
The Afghan politicians were urged to initiate efforts at converting the presidential form of government into a federal system. The US congressmen asked them to use their influence in this regard.
But a State Department official said Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and other US lawmakers who met the Afghan leaders did not represent the Obama administration.
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