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September 25, 2016

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Hekmatyar all set to return to Kabul

ISLAMABAD: As Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) entered into a peace agreement with Dr Ashraf Ghani’s regime last week, preparations are afoot for the return of Eng Gulbaddin Hekmatyar to Kabul.

A source in Kabul said that many HIA leaders, who had distanced themselves from the armed struggle of the party but did not disconnect their political association with Hekmatyar, have already reached the Afghan capital to welcome him back most probably in a next couple of weeks.

Hekmatyar has been assured of full security by Turkish commandos during his stay in Kabul as he has also hinted at visiting Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Pakistan soon after his homecoming, the sources close to HIA’s political wing based in Islamabad and Peshawar said.

Talking to ‘The News’ a source claimed, “The former prime minister of Afghanistan of seven mujahideen coalition outfits is likely to engage in intensive dialogue with his friends in Taliban ranks and also inviting Pakistani authorities to join a joint effort to pave the way for foreign troops exit from Afghanistan when complete peace returns to the war-torn country. A team of journalists who reported the long armed struggle of Afghan nation against Soviet army’s invasion of the country for more than ten years may also visit Kabul as soon Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan  chief sets foot in the capital. 

Diplomatic sources in Islamabad are optimistic about returning of Taliban to negotiation table after Gulbaddin Hekmatyar’s joining mainstream politics by shunning arms struggle.

He said there were also indications that Hekmatyar might start dialogue with his party’s reneged leaders to reunite and make HIA more formidable political force which shares major share in the local administration.

Before retreat from Sarobi, south of Kabul after Taliban taking over country’s reigns of the country, Hekmatyar has been rapidly changing his places.

Hekmatyar also extended his support to the Taliban forces against US occupation of the country but then withdrew his cooperation and kept himself quiet while many of his party men entrenched themselves in country’s politics by changing their positions.

The source said that with the age and experience, Hekmatyar has finally come to the conclusion that war is no solution to the Afghan problem and decided to join the political forces to drive the country out of crisis.

Eng Gulbaddin Gulbaddin has a strong presence of his likeminded and former party office holders in Afghan Parliament and the Kabul administration as they had paved the way for his party’s entering into political dialogue and an agreement under which his name would be removed from the US list of terrorists as well as restored Afghan passport and official recognition of his party as Kabul regime’s partner in peace.

Another Hezb-i-Islam source claimed that the majority of returning Afghan refugees especially from Shamshatoo camp in Peshawar steadfastly belonged to HIA who would strengthen party’s vote bank for any future elections.

It may be recalled that so far 0.375 million Afghan refugees have returned and more than 0.4 million are more about to leave and many of them are big and small traders.

The source said that Hekmatyar had reached the conclusion of discarding armed struggle and instead joining the active politics was driven by the perpetual and constant persuasion by the world Islamic movement’s leadership who wrote him letters citing many examples where the dialogue was preferred over path of armed struggle.

They argued that Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan could be more effective as a political force than a second fiddle fighting force. Hekmatar’s party has branches in many of European countries including Germany and France and he also received advice from these organisations to play role in safe exit of foreign troops from Afghanistan and turning the country into an Islamic state would only be possible by the start of pragmatic political process although he (Hekmatyar) was already involved in indirect politics.

He decided to go all out for bringing peace to the country which has been mired in the fire of civil war, guerrilla wars and freedom wars for over 35 years now.

One thing about Hekmatyar is crystal clear that throughout his struggle whether during his stay in Pakistan, Iran or inside Afghanistan, he has been a leader par excellence who made his long lasting impression on Afghanistan’s long war for survival.

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