War to end only if foreigners leave: Hekmatyar
In an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, the former prime minister blamed Moscow and Washington for the current crisis in the country. He also assailed Pakistan and Iran for contributing to the situation.
During its visit to Kabul some time back, the HIA presented a number of suggestions to revive peace and stability in the country, Hekmatyar said. But Afghan and US officials came up with the responses they give at news briefings.
The authorities want fighters to join the government, renounce fighting and agree to the presence of foreign forces, according to the top fugitive, who made clear that the conditions were unacceptable to the insurgents.
He opposed the strategic cooperation agreement that is currently being negotiated with the US, saying: “In fact, it’s a deal for permanent occupation of Afghanistan.” A ceasefire would be possible only when an agreement was reached on a broad peace strategy, he remarked.
Willing to help foreigners pull out of Afghanistan with dignity, the HIA would have no option other than armed resistance if international forces were intent upon a military solution, the ex-jihadi commander said.
He accused neighbours of trying to promote their personal interests in Afghanistan, install a puppet regime in Kabul and fuel the war. The neighbours were seeking a solution of their choice and wanted Afghans to continue to fight, he alleged.
His party favoured a homegrown solution to the conflict through substantive dialogue, said Hekmatyar, who came hard on the politicians urging federalism in Afghanistan. In the absence of a strong central authority and a powerful army, the idea of a federal system meant dividing Afghanistan at the behest of non-state actors, he observed.
Q: What are the core points that the HIA delegation has discussed with Afghan and US officials in Kabul and which points were agreed upon?
A: Our delegation visited Kabul in response to an invitation from Americans. The delegates listened to the views of Afghan officials and presented an Islamic solution to the conflict. But, unfortunately, the Americans lack a clear and acceptable policy, while the Kabul government has no authority and policy in this regard.
Our delegation did not receive any concrete response, a strategy to end to the war or something that could lead to the establishment of a sovereign Islamic government elected by Afghans. They repeated what they have been saying to the media --- that fighters should join the government; find a solution to the conflict in the presence of foreign troops and the mujahideen should agree to foreigners’ stay in Afghanistan ... The demands come at a time when the US and the Europe have imposed war on innocent Afghans, whose blood is shed on a daily basis. Foreign troops conduct raids on civilian houses and kill women, children and elderly people. They have given authority to war criminals, miscreants, thieves, robbers and traitors to rule the country. How can the war end in such a situation?
Q: It is said the HIA had backed out of its previous conditions during peace talks. If it is true, will you assign reasons for it?
A: The Hezb-i-Islami is committed to Islam and it has a principled stand on all issues. We have neither backed out of our conditions in the past, nor will do so in the future. Our stand remains unchanged. What our delegation said at the peace talks was shared with media people: The war would not end and there could be no peace as long as NATO-led troops don’t withdraw from Afghanistan.
If the foreigners want to leave, we can help them. And if they insist on prolonging the war, then we have no option but to resist. The Americans and the Kabul government should realise the fact that there is no way out of the current quagmire except the complete pullout of foreign troops, who have been unable to restore peace...
Q: Though peace talks are underway, yet Afghans are being killed. What steps do you suggest for an early ceasefire to salvage Afghans?
A: The war has been imposed on Afghans. It is a continuation of the war waged by Russians and communists. The Americans have prolonged it to date. The conflict will end only when international troops leave and foreign interference stops. A ceasefire is possible only when parties to the conflict agree on a comprehensive policy guaranteeing an end to the war. The truce should be part of an elaborate peace agreement, not an exclusive arrangement.
Q: The international community, including the US, supports an Afghan-led reconciliation process. But many believe the Afghan government is being kept out of the Qatar dialogue. Do you think such talks could be result-oriented?
A: The Kabul government has no real quest for peace; nor does it have authority or policy to bring peace to the country. Kabul officials, particularly communists and northern alliance figures, insist on the continued stay of foreign troops. They are begging Americans to set up permanent bases in Afghanistan for an indefinite period. They are opposed to every effort that may bring peace. That’s why they are against the Qatar talks. The previous peace commission had received millions of pounds from Britain to purchase jihadi commanders and win their surrender. The current peace council has been given million of dollars by the US for the same reason, but nothing has happened, because the peace body had no authority, no spirit and determination to make peace.
Q: Many think that Pakistan-based rebel groups could not take independent decisions on joining the reconciliation process, without approval from the ISI. With several Hezbi-i-Islami leaders living in that country, what is your opinion?
Answer: It is a ridiculous propaganda by communists and their western allies. The mujahideen have no office in Pakistan, a country which had supported Americans more than any other state. Without Pakistan’s support, the Americans would have been unable to invade Afghanistan. And without involving Islamabad, the US can’t end the war.
Most of our commanders have been detained with Pakistan’s support. It is not enough to say that Pakistan handed over two Taliban diplomats -- Mullah Zaeef and Dr. Ghairat -- with their hands tied behind their back to US officials. And Dr. Baheer was sent to Panjsher, where he was kept for six years in jail.
Q: What would you like to say about claims that Pakistan is pursuing a two-faced policy on Afghanistan -- something that has spawned multiple problems in the conflict-torn country?
A: I wish such claims were not made by the individuals who are fighting against their own people. They were under Russian influence yesterday and under the US thumb today. The Afghanistan is the handiwork of Moscow and Washington, with Iran and Pakistan acting on their dictates.
We could say that Pakistan is guilty of double standards if it were simultaneously supporting the US and mujahideen. In fact, Pakistan has backed and continues to support only the US. The Afghan factions, whose elders are chosen as presidents in Pakistan, are also helping Americans. Everyone is aware of the fact that Pakistan, because of its support for the US, has run into complex internal challenges and could no longer interfere in Afghan affairs.
Q: A number of regional powers, especially Iran, are insisting on a regional solution to the problem of Afghanistan. Would you like to comment?
A: We have a principled stand on it, opposing every kind of foreign meddling in Afghanistan. We don’t want the issue to be resolved by those who created it. Our neighbours have supported the occupation forces and wanted a weak Afghanistan at war with itself.
Q: With regard to the conflict and peace with the Afghan government, the stand of Taliban and Hezb-i-Islami appears to have changed. In your eyes, what has inspired this policy shift?
A: There is no shift in HIA stand. We remain ready for fruitful talks with all parties to the conflict. We want the parleys to guarantee an unconditional withdrawal of foreign forces, Afghanistan’s sovereignty and the just right for Afghans to take independent decisions. You have also talked of a shift in Taliban’s stand. It will be better if you ask the Taliban about it...
Q: A mismatch of perceptions between the Taliban and Hezb-i-Islami could negatively affect the peace drive. What steps have you taken to deal with such a situation?
A: We have tried time and again to bring together all groups of mujahideen. If it is not possible, we must have a unified stand on war and peace. We have asked all groups to … set the condition for foreign forces’ pullout. Then we can elect a national government.
Q: If the Hezb-i-Islami reaches a political settlement with the Karzai administration but the Taliban decide to press on with their armed struggle, would you redefine your ties to the insurgent movement?
A: The Hezb wants unity among Afghans, national sovereignty, an end to occupation, real peace and a popular Islamic government in the country. These are demands of all mujahideen and Afghans. I don’t think the Taliban are toeing a different line on this.
Q: What measures should be taken to prevent a civil strife after the scheduled pullout of NATO-led troops from Afghanistan in 2014?
A: The current conflict is the result of foreign interference and if foreign forces withdraw, Afghans can resolve their problems.
Q: How does the Hezb-i-Islami look at the US-Afghanistan strategic partnership pact?
A: The agreement is in fact aimed at perpetual occupation of Afghanistan. Such agreements had also been signed by the pro-communist regime with the Russia. The pacts were not only useless but also led to the fall of both signatories. The results of the accord with the US will be even more disastrous. We must not lose sight of the fact that the Afghan government is not authorised to sign such an agreement.
Q: Some political figures have lately demanded a switch from the president form of government to a federal or parliamentary system. What’s your take on the issue?
A: My brief reply is that the demand has come from the people who have supported every aggressor. This is not a demand of their own, but it comes from the enemies of Afghanistan. The call was issued at a conference in a foreign country (Germany). The meeting had been organised by US senators. In the absence of a strong army, a federal form of government means a division of the country.
Having tried the parliamentary system for a while, Iran had to go for a presidential form of government due to the negative impact of the federal order, he said, adding the Pakistani model had also flopped. No Pakistani prime minister had been able to complete his/her tenure under the colonial system, the HIA chief maintained. He wondered why a neighbouring country and the groups beholden to it were demanding federalism in Afghanistan, a role in power for Shiites and a separate province for the minority sect. Surprisingly, he said, the US was supportive of the calls from a country which itself is averse to the federal system.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.