ISLAMABAD, Feb 14: Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar will return to his country and not to Pakistan if he is expelled from Iran, his spokesman said on Thursday.
There have been calls in Iran for the expulsion of the guerilla leader after he expressed scorn for the UN-backed interim administration in Kabul and called for armed struggle to eject foreign troops from Afghanistan.
“In case of leaving Iran, Mr Hekmatyar intends to go to his own country and has no intention to come to Pakistan,” his spokesman, Ghairat Baheer, said in a statement issued in Islamabad.
Hekmatyar, who has been in exile in Iran for years, is one of the most vocal opponents of Afghanistan’s new interim government and the involvement of foreign forces in his country.
Iranian media reported on Sunday that Iranian authorities closed down Hekmatyar’s offices amid mounting calls for him to be expelled.
“Iran is no place for any one or group that resorts to mischief,” Iranian Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mousavi-Lari said. “We will pursue the issue of Hekmatyar through our intelligence ministry and other channels and make a due decision about him.”
The closure of his group’s office, which the media said was made because Hekmatyar had acted against Iranian national security, was seen as an Iranian effort to demonstrate goodwill towards the UN-backed interim government in Afghanistan.
Some US and Afghan officials have suggested that Iran was trying to destabilize the interim government in Kabul. Iran has denied the accusation.
PRESSURE ON IRAN: Baheer said the United States was pressuring Iran to curb the activities of Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami group.
He said Hekmatyar was ready to leave Iran “if his departure is going to help Iranians in solving their problems” with the United States.
Hekmatyar was Pakistan’s most favoured guerrilla leader during the 1979-89 war in Afghanistan against Soviet occupying forces and he got the lion’s share of arms and money channelled to the US-backed Mujahideen groups.
But he lost favour with Islamabad and was forced to seek exile in Iran after the rise of Taliban militia in Afghanistan in 1996.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman said earlier this week he did not expect Hekmatyar to seek refuge in Pakistan if he was expelled from Iran.
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was in and out of the Mujahideen government that took over in Kabul in 1992 after the collapes of the Soviet-backed government — and was deeply involved in the internecine warfare that doomed it to failure.—Reuters