Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, November 28th, 2020

Hekmatyar’s Irresponsible Remarks Outrageous

The recent statements of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of Hizb-e-Islami, about formation of interim government have been outrageous to Afghan officials and ordinary people. Hekmatyar, a notorious jihadi leader, played a deadly role in Afghanistan as he was widely engaged in civil unrest and killing Afghan people. Although he signed a peace agreement with the Afghan administration after leading a militant group for years, which was operating against the government, his remarks are always controversial.
The remarks of Hekmatyar, a chauvinist figure, triggered official backlash. His words and attitudes are close to those of the Taliban.
After signing peace deal with the Afghan government, Hekmatyar called on the Taliban to negotiate a deal with the government and stop killing people. The Taliban, however, turned a deaf ear to his call.
With the start of the intra-Afghan dialogue, Hekmatyar did not put his weight behind the talks. He has shown tendency to the Taliban’s attitudes as he said “the Taliban have not accepted the current government and an interim government is the only solution”. He added that the ongoing talks in the Qatari capital of Doha was between teams of the Presidential Palace and the Taliban. He is cited as saying, “Current talks in Doha are between the team of the Arg (Presidential Palace) and the Taliban. These talks are not intra-Afghan talks, because many Afghan political parties are not present in these talks, we are not there. There is a need for consensus first so that we can go toward the talks with a unified idea.”
In his trip to Pakistan, Hekmatyar said the United States had been “defeated in Afghanistan”.
However, Hekmatyar neither condemned the Taliban’s intensified attacks – which led to heavy casualties of Afghan soldiers and civilians – nor called on them to reduce their violence so as to pave the ground for declaration of ceasefire. In other words, as Afghan officials and ordinary people, including clerics, call on the Taliban to stop killing non-combatants and mitigate their insurgency, Hekmatyar did not break his silence in this regard and turned a blind eye to the Taliban’s acts of violence and bloodshed.
Despite being engaged in killing civilians, Hekmatyar seeks to present as a legitimate leader. He ran for office in the latest round of presidential election to de-uglify his figure and his past practices in the civil unrest, of course, understanding the fact that he would never be elected as a president. With this in mind, he could not represent Afghan people in the peace talks but would simply focus on his self-interests. In other words, Afghans lost their trust in Hekmatyar and he is still a notorious figure in the public eye. The level of public mistrust and hatred is easily noticeable on social media as Afghans speak against Hekmatyar, his past practices and present remarks. 
If Afghanistan’s peace and stability carry weight for Hekmatyar, he has to condemn the Taliban’s acts of violence and terror and call on them to stop spilling the blood of Afghan soldiers in general and Afghan civilians in particular. He should raise his voice in support of Afghan state and nation and issue fatwa against the Taliban’s harsh practices.
It is the Taliban group, not the Afghan government, increased their violence pushing the talks to deadlock. They spill the blood of civilians to put pressure on the government and gain concessions at the negotiating table. The Taliban seek to prolong the war and do not sign an agreement with the government so as see the result of the US presidential elections and the reaction of the future president.
Hekmatyar’s irresponsible remarks will be against national interests. If he does not want to play a constructive, he should, at least, discontinue his destructive role. He signed an agreement with the Afghan government committing not to fight against the state or nation, but it does not necessarily mean that all his ugly practices during the civil unrest are undone.
Meanwhile, the Taliban have to stop the political game and negotiate with genuine intention. Killing Afghan combatants and non-combatants will not be conducive to peace. Simply sitting across from the government’s negotiating team is unlikely to show the Taliban’s goodwill, which will be proved through reduction of violence and declaration of ceasefire.
Afghan political figures have to avoid making irresponsible remarks. Both political figures and government officials need to reach consensus on peace talks at national level and pursue forming international consensus so that the ongoing talks bear the desired result.