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The Killid Group
No peace with Hekmatyar - yetWritten by Mohammad Fahim Haidari
Saturday, 26 February 2011 11:52
HIG and Kabul maintain a blame game for the failure of peace talks.
A high-profile delegation of the belligerent Hezbe Islami Party - the so-called Hizbe Islami Hekmatyar (HIG) - which met President Hamid Karzai in March 2010 has accused the U.S. and the Northern Alliance leaders of impairing its peacemaking overtures with the Afghan Government. The five-member delegation was headed by Ghairat Baheer, Hekmatyar's son in-law, and also met the UN special envoy, Staffan de Mistura.
"We presented a 15-point coherent peace proposal to the government," Haroun Zarghoun, a spokesperson for the HIG, told Killid, adding that determining a deadline for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan was the group's top condition for peace. "The U.S. and some Jihadi leaders are responsible for the failure of peace talks between the Hezbe Islami and the government," he said.
Zargoun alleged that Washington is only using military means to settle the conflict but is not interested in genuine political peacemaking efforts. Without naming anyone Hekmatyar's spokesperson also said that the Northern Alliance leaders had blocked meaningful reconciliation between Kabul and its armed opposition groups.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul refused to comment on the issue but U.S. officials have said in the past that they are in favour of Afghan Government-led peace and reconciliation programmes.
A spokesperson for President Karzai, Waheed Omar, repudiated allegations that former Northern Alliance figures had spoiled the reconciliation process with the HIG. "The government gave a peace plan to the [HIG] delegation for consideration and asked them to discuss it and return to Kabul for further talks but they have not show up," said Omar.
However, HIG's spokesperson rejected Omar's assertion and said that the delegation had received no document from the government.
Haji Mohammad Akram, an official of the High Peace Council, said that Kabul had reached to an understanding with the HIG delegation. "Even a sort of agreement was made," said Akram without giving further details.
The alleged inability of the government to manage the peace process independently has been cited by some observers as a key obstacle. A former Taliban diplomat, Abdul Salaam Zayef, has said that Taliban leaders do not believe that President Karzai has the authority to make peace with them without Washington's approval. Similar allegations have been echoed by the HIG. Kabul has strongly rejected the claims and has assured that any peace process falls within its sovereign powers.
German Brigadier General Joseph Blotz, spokesperson for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), said the alliance was supporting the government to seek peace through talks and reconciliation with the armed opposition. "Peace cannot be won only militarily," said Blotz. "Good governance and political options should be increased", he said. ISAF does not participate in peace talks, Blotz highlighted.
Peace vs. surge
Failure or success in Kabul's reconciliation activities with the HIG will have strong consequences for the conflict management and the future of peace with Taliban and other insurgent groups. Unlike the Taliban who adamantly emphasize on their strict preconditions for peace talks - unconditional withdrawal of all foreign forces and restoration of a purely Islamic state - the HIG is believed to be flexible in its terms and more eager to gain political power.
"By 2014 President Karzai will have to step down and NATO will have to transfer its responsibilities to Afghans which will create opportunities for other individuals and groups to step in and fill the gaps," said Waheed Mujda, a political commentator. The 64-year-old Hekmatyar is unlikely to run for the presidency but his sons-in-law, sons and other underlings are expected to seek ministerial positions in the future, according to Mujda.
As the HIG delegation was discussing prospects of peace in Kabul, thousands of additional U.S. forces were arriving to Afghanistan as part of a planned military surge to "dismantle, disrupt and defeat" the insurgents. "The military surge has been contradicting Kabul's calls for peace and reconciliation," said HIG's Zarghoun.
U.S. officials say the surge was not a unilateral decision but implemented in consultation with the Afghan Government. Afghan officials, meanwhile, contend that U.S.-NATO and Afghan forces are fighting al Qaeda and other irreconcilable insurgents who must be smashed militarily. In a bid to demonstrate its commitment to peace and reconciliation, Kabul has established a large peace council headed by a former president, Burhanuddin Rabbani, to explore political talks with the insurgency.
The structure and leadership of the High Peace Council have been criticized by both the civil society and the insurgency. "A peace council should be a joint venture in which all sides should have active participation and representation but the existing council is only made of government representatives," said Zarghoun while Qiyamuddin Kashaf, spokesperson for the Council said that in half of the Government's positions members of the HIG have been appointed.
Sebghatullah Mujadadi, a former president and Jihadi leader, said Kabul had been in war with the HIG for almost two decades largely due to its irreconcilable and highly ambitious leader, Hekmatyar, who has also been accused of acting at the behest of ISI, the Pakistani intelligence agency.
Mr. Karzai has delegated the peacemaking activities to Rabbani, who has a track record of no-peace but an extensive history of power fighting with the HIG. Although it is yet to be announced, the news is: Kabul is in no peace with the Hizbe Islami, at least for the time being.