US pullout, non-aligned govt only durable solution: Hekmatyar

Published October 22, 2020
Hizb-i-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar speaks during an event at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) in Islamabad on Oct 21. — AFP
Hizb-i-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar speaks during an event at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) in Islamabad on Oct 21. — AFP

ISLAMABAD: The only durable solution for peace in Afghanistan is withdrawal of US troops and formation of a non-aligned, independent and sovereign government by Afghans in light of their beliefs and traditions without outside interference, Afghan politician and Hizb-i-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar said on Wednesday. Otherwise, he warned, the country would plunge into another civil war.

The Afghan leader was speaking to foreign policy analysts, practitioners and journalists at an exclusive talk organised by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) at the end of his three-day official visit to Pakistan, says a handout.

Mr Hekmatyar said that Afghans had invested about $20 billion in other countries, including Turkey and the Gulf states, during the war and suggested the Pakistan government to facilitate Afghan investors and businessmen to enable them to bring their investment to Pakistan.

The facilities essential in this regard, he said, included permission to open bank accounts, buy property on the basis of Afghan passports and issuance of long-term visas like those provided by certain European countries.

Islamabad urged to facilitate Afghan investment in Pakistan

The Afghan leader, who also met top leadership of Pakistan during his three-day stay here, said that he had held talks with Pakistani officials in this regard and said he was hopeful that his suggestion would be implemented.

Mr Hekmatyar, who twice served as Afghan prime minister in the 1990s, said justice demanded that those who had sacrificed for Afghanistan for so many years should have the right to rule their country.

All Afghan groups and parties should have the right to enter into negotiations with each other at a neutral venue. The agenda should be withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and the formation of an independent and sovereign government.

Other national issues such as the constitution and the type of government should be left for a later discussion after restoration of peace, the Afghan leader said, adding that these issues were for Afghans to decide and external forces had no right to decide those matters.

He said the US had been defeated without achieving any goals and it must now withdraw from Afghanistan.

“It will be a mistake if the US now adopts a policy other than leaving Afghanistan,” Mr Hekmatyar said.

He expressed the hope that Americans would not repeat the mistake of the Soviets who had established their puppet government in Kabul before leaving Afghanistan. He warned different countries against fighting their wars and settling their scores on Afghan soil.

“Afghanistan should not be used by the US against Russia, by India against Pakistan and by Iran against Saudi Arabia,” he said.

He said the continuation of war in Afghanistan was not in the interest of anyone, including India. The reason for India’s support of the current Afghan government could be Kashmir, he said, adding that India must not fight its Kashmir war on the soil of Afghanistan.

The Afghan leader said that his party had supported the US-Taliban agreement, although it had some reservations about the process and it wanted to be part of the talks. He said that a majority of political parties were not supporting the Afghan government’s stand on the peace process and the current government in Kabul was not ready to enter into negotiations with all political parties.

Mr Hekmatyar said that talks would start soon between Hizb-i-Islami and Taliban with the aim to make peace durable and lasting.

He said that Pakistan helped the US in Afghanistan, but the Americans still preferred India over it as big powers had their own agendas and they did things keeping in mind their own interests.

His impression was that Pakistan was keen for an Afghan-owned peace process in Afghanistan, adding that Pakistani officials had assured him that all mutual problems would be resolved gradually through understanding.

Later, Mr Hekmatyar attended a reception given in his honour by Jamaat-i-Islami chief Senator Sirajul Haq.

Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2020

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