Presidential candidate Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of Hizb-e-Islami (also spelled Hezb-e-Islami), claims that informal talks with the Taliban have resulted in a cessation of hostility between both groups. Talking to TOLOnews in an exclusive interview on Saturday, Mr. Hekmatyar stated that he traveled by road for more than 2,000 kilometers across the northern and northeastern provinces to attend campaign rallies, and faced no trouble. The terms of this informal agreement hold that neither side will take “hostile action” against the other.
Hizb-e-Islami, which is not an officially recognized political party, is different from the Taliban because it favors elections, and always has, according to Mr. Hekmatyar.
“Some types of negotiations were done between Hizb-e-Islami and the Taliban in a good environment, without government and with success. Part of the agreement is that we will not produce negative propaganda against each other, or take hostile action against each other. We should work jointly for the freedom of the country, to save the people from this painful situation, end the war, and ensure peace and the future government.” Mr. Hekmatyar said.
Future of Afghan Women
The popular Afghan singer Naghma, in the studio audience, asked Mr. Hekmatyar about his position on women’s rights. She also asked whether under his administration she would be able to hold a concert at the nation’s Olympic stadium in Kabul. Mr. Hekmatyar responded that “women will enjoy more rights than men under my leadership,” and stated that Naghma’s concert question was premature. “First, let’s allow an Islamic government to be established. Then you will not ask for a concert at the Ghazi Stadium [in Kabul]. Rather, you will ask permission to go to the battlefield.”
Hekmatyar said that US President Donald Trump canceled negotiations with the Taliban because of pressure from government officials in Washington and US diplomats in Afghanistan, and predicted that negotiations might resume because the US and the Taliban do not have other options. “The United States should first end its military presence in Afghanistan, and take with it the government that was made in Bonn [conference in 2001],” Hekmatyar stated, adding, “Afghanistan is in its worse days” with “almost 300 security force members killed every day in Afghanistan,” all while “the government is under the control of foreigners.”
“Mr. Trump was under pressure by his administration. All ambassadors in Kabul joined hands together and took a stance against the Doha talks. The US chief of staff, the head of the Defense Department and the CIA chiefs, influential senators, all joined hands and pressured the White House. Therefore Trump had to call off the negotiations unilaterally. It was surprising for the Taliban as well,” he said.
Crimes against humanity are occurring in Afghanistan now as in the past, said Hekmatyar, offering that he is ready to stand trial when there is an independent court backed by an Islamic government.
Hekmatyar claims that the nickname “the Butcher of Kabul” was given to him by a French journalist after Hizb-e-Islami fighters attacked French forces in Kapisa province, killing 30. He is “proud of the nickname.”
On the Taliban’s relations with Pakistan, Hekmatyar claimed that the Taliban was made in Pakistan with that country’s support, but currently the group has more supporters with less dependence on Pakistan. Further, Mr. Hekmatyar does not believe that Pakistan hosts madrassas that train terrorists, and the suggestion of such is “propaganda,” made by those who want to damage the image of religious schools in--and outside--Afghanistan.