pxl
bismellah


pixl

Home
News
Articles (New)
AfghanPedia

Contact Us


Why is America Failing in Afghanistan?

- DR. Abdul-Qayum Mohmand

CNN International News with Christiane Amanpour

Analysis of “CIA World Factbook” (1981-2012): Dimensions of anti-Pashtun Conspirac
US forces in Afghanistan nearly destroyed vital airfield
We Are Those Two Afghan Children, Killed by NATO While Tending Their Cattle
Former Islamist Warlord Vies for Afghan Presidency
Pakistan releases top Afghan Taliban prisoner in effort to boost peace process
Losing the War in Afghanistan
Obama’s troop increase for Afghan war was misdirected
Afghan security vacuum feared along "gateway to Kabul"
Objections to U.S. Troops Intensify in Afghanistan
The Great Afghan corruption scam
War zone killing: Vets feel 'alone' in their guilt
Was Osama for Real? And Was He Killed in 2001?
Afghanistan withdrawal: The risks of retreat
The Real Reason the US Invaded Afghanistan
The Definition of a Quagmire
Huge Uncertainty' in Afghanistan
Controversial ID Cards Expose Ethnic Divisions In Afghanistan
Afghanistan: The Final Curtain Call for NATO?
Afghanistan After 9/11: A Mission Unaccomplished
Why Should Taliban and Other Insurgents Refrain from Negotiation With the US & NATO? By: Dr Mohammed Daud Miraki, MA, MA, Ph

Exclusive: Karzai family looks to extend boss rule in Afghanistan.

Intrigue in Karzai Family as an Afghan Era Closes
For Afghans, Two Outrages, Two Different Reactions
Double blow to west’s Afghan strategy
Does the Taliban need a diplomatic voice?
Afghanistan: Lessons in War and Peace-building for US
Afghan women opposed by former allies
Q+A - Haqqani: From White House guest to staunch U.S. enemy
Haqqanis: Growth of a militant network -BBC
Afghanistan shelves plans for ambassador accused of fraud
Afghan nominated as ambassador to Britain was accused in US of fraud
U.S. deal with Taliban breaks down
The Loneliness of the Afghan President: Karzai on His Own

NATO's Third Alternative in Afghanistan

On the Road: Interview with Commander Abdul Haq:- The Tragedy of Abdul Haq
When the Lion Roared: How Abdul Haq Almost Saved Afghanistan
AFGHAN WARRIOR: THE LIFE & DEATH OF ABDUL HAQ
Pakistan’s ISI: Undermining Afghan self-determination since 1948
Mineral Wealth of Afghanistan, Military Occupation, Corruption and the Rights of the Afghan People
M. Siddieq Noorzoy
Why Isn’t the UN Investigating and Prosecuting the U.S. and NATO for War Crimes Committed in Afghanistan?
Corruption and Warlordism:
Abdul Basir Stanikzai
In Afghanistan, U.S. contracts aren’t crystal balls, but they come close
The great Afghan carve-up
Anatomy of an Afghan war tragedy
Terry Jones Actually Burns a Qur’an and No One Notices
Q+A-Are Afghan forces ready to take over security?
Guantánamo Bay files rewrite the story of Osama bin Laden's Tora Bora escape
Winning Afghan hearts, minds with explosives
Afghanistan’s Mercenaries
KABUL’S HORIZONS
Who is winning Afghanistan war? U.S. officials increasingly disagree
Afghanistan: The Trouble With The Transition
From the Archives: In Quest of a ‘Greater Tajikistan’
The 1980s mujahideen, the Taliban and the shifting idea of jihad
Afghanistan's Karzai complains about interference
Karzai, US ambassador at odds over private security

Karzai Tells Washington Post U.S. Should Reduce Afghan Operation Intensity

Excerpts from Afghan President Hamid Karzai's interview with The Washington Post
What the Afghans Want
New US approach to Afghanistan insurgency: Vindication for Pakistan?
Putting Some Fight Into Our Friends
Afghans 'abused at secret prison
Why We Won’t Leave Afghanistan or Iraq
Indo-Pakistan proxy war heats up in Afghanistan
Canada’s elite commandos and the invasion of Afghanistan
U.S. retreat from Afghan valley marks recognition of blunder
Five myths about the war in Afghanistan
Marine who resigned over ‘conscience’ speaks at MU
The Afghan media may have grown since Taliban rule ended, but not so press freedoms
Mystery holes and angry ants: another Afghan day
Kabul Bank's Sherkhan Farnood feeds crony capitalism in Afghanistan
Marjah War
Operation Moshtarak: Which way the war in Afghanistan?
Q&A: Why Marjah, why now?
In Jalalabad, hope is fading
Seeking reconciliation, US units meet remote Afghanistan tribes
Once Again, Get the Hell Out! "Ending the War in Afghanistan"
Blackwater Kept a Prostitute on the Payroll in Afghanistan; Fraudulently Billed American Tax Payers
Wild West Motif Lightens US Mood at Afghan Bas
In southern Afghanistan, even the small gains get noticed
 Afghanistan war: US tries to undercut Taliban at tribal level
 Soviet lessons from Afghanistan
Are actions of 'super-tribe' an Afghan tipping point
Taliban: Terrorist or not? Not always easy to say
Q&A: Who else could help in Afghanistan?
Vietnam Replay on Afghan 'Defectors'
Washington's Refusal to Talk about Drone Strikes in Pakistan Meets Growing Opposition
Afghanistan summit: Why is the US backing talks with the Taliban?
Taliban's leadership council runs Afghan war from Pakistan
Why buy the Taliban?
2 Afghanistan conferences: No solutions
An Alternative to Endless War - Negotiating an Afghan Agreement?
Do the Taliban represent the Pashtuns?
Afghanistan asks ex-presidential contender to tackle corruption

Tehran Sets Conditions For Attending London Conference On Afghanista

Pakistan says reaches out to Afghan Taliban
Taking It to the Taliban
The Afghan Taliban's top leaders
How significant is Mullah Baradar's arrest?
Secret Joint Raid Captures Taliban’s Top Commander
What's the Quetta Shura Taliban and why does it matter?
What's behind latest Taliban attack on Kabul? See Images of the Attack By WSJ

Pakistan Version of Islam and Taliban ?????
Lahore fashion week takes on Talibanization in Pakistan

Loyalties of Those Killed in Afghan Raid Remain Unclear

After Attack, Afghans Question Motives or See Conspiracies
Gates: Taliban part of Afghan ‘political fabric’

IG: Afghan power-plant project ill-conceived, mismanaged

Taliban intensifies Afghan PR campaign

Taliban Overhaul Their Image in Bid to Win Allies
Karzai plans to woo Taliban with 'land, work and pensions'
Peace scheme mooted for Taliban
Bombs and baksheesh
But By All Means, Continue the Happy Talk on the Afghanistan War
Karzai Closing in on Taliban Reconciliation Plan
Last Exit Kabul
How To Get Out Without Forsaking Afghanistan's Stability
Afghan Recovery Report: Taleban Buying Guns From Former Warlords

'Jesus Guns': Two More Countries Rethink Using Weapons with Secret Bible References

Gun bible quotes 'inappropriate'
Text of Joint declaration of Afghanistan-Iran-Pakistan trilateral meeting
Garmsir Protest Shows Taleban Reach
Rugged North Waziristan harbors US enemies
The Arrogance of Empire, Detailed ( The Untold Story of Afghanistan )
Appointment of Afghan counter narcotics chief dismays British officials
In Afghanistan attack, CIA fell victim to series of miscalculations about informant
Rebuilding Afghanistan: Will government take hold in this post-Taliban town?
Rare bird discovered in Afghan mountains
Blackwater, now called Xe, in running for work in Afghanistan despite legal woes
How Soviet troops stormed Kabul palace
Afghan children 'die in fighting'
Afghanistan war: Russian vets look back on their experience
U.N. Officials Say American Offered Plan to Replace Karzai 
Learning From the Soviets
U.S. faults Afghan corruption body's independence
Intensify fight against corruption, says Afghan meeting
Afghan ministers cleared of charges
Drone aircraft in a stepped-up war in Afghanistan and Pakistan
U.S. Air Force Confirms 'Beast of Kandahar' Secret Stealth Drone Plane
Kissinger's fantasy is Obama's realit
Taliban shadow officials offer concrete alternative
Talking with the Taliban
20. Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart
'Yes, there was torture and people were certainly beaten': Afghan warden
Why we should leave Afghanistan
US pours millions into anti-Taliban militias in Afghanistan
Pakistan to US: Don't surge in Afghanistan, talk to Taliban
A Plan C for Afghanistan
Finding decent cabinet is Karzai's big challenge
A way to get around Karzai in Afghanistan
Corruption fight boosted by 'Afghan FBI'
US demands Afghan 'bribery court'
Afghanistan plans court for corrupt ministers
The man leading Afghanistan's anti-corruption fight
Win hearts and minds in Afghanistan to win the war
Gates blocks abuse photos release
New U.S. Afghan prison unveiled, rights groups wary
War in Afghanistan: Not in our name
How the US Funds the Taliban
Afghan gov't says UN representative out of line
Cabinet of Warlords
Afghanistan and the lessons of history
Clinton says Karzai ‘must do better’
Recognizing the Limits of American Power in Afghanistan
After Afghanistan election, governors seek distance from 'illegal' Karzai
Karzai was hellbent on victory. Afghans will pay the price
Matthew Hoh: Please refute what I'm saying, we are stuck in the Afghan civil war
As US looks for exit in Afghanistan, China digs in
America's Top Diplomat Tells 'Nightline': 'Not Every Taliban Is al Qaeda'
Obama Can’t Make Russian Mistake in Afghanistan
10 Steps to Victory in Afghanistan
Will Obama change Afghan strategy?
Does the U.S. still have a vital interest in Afghanistan?
Pashtuns and Pakistani
The Afghan '80s are back
Pashtun peace prophet goes global
Afghan Road Builder's Dream Thwarted by Violence
A white elephant in Kabul
The Afghan Runoff: Will It Be a No-Show Election?

Ashraf Ghani- Afghanistan's Disputed Election Complicates U.S. Strategy

On Assignment: Into the Maw at Marja

Patrick Witty & Tyler Hicks
The New York Times


Afghanistan Cross Road CNN


The last frontier


Bruce Richardson
 

Articles

CIA: Buying peace in Afghanistan?

With Bags of Cash, C.I.A. Seeks Influence in Afghanistan
CIA Ghost Money: Karzai Confirms U.S. Gives Funds To Afghan National Security Team
What the CIA’s cash has bought for Afghanistan

Khalilzad: A Satan Whispering in the Hearts of Men
The Afghan trust deficitt
Will We Learn Anything from Afghanistan? Part 1
Getting Out of Afghanistan: Part 2
William R. Polk
General’s Defense on Afghan Scandal Ducks Key Evidence
Afghans want Taliban peace talks
Bombing Weddings in Afghanistan: It Couldn't Happen Here, It Does Happen There
Hekmatyar's never-ending Afghan war
Covert American Aid to the Afghan Resistance; A Top-Secret U.S. Foreign Policy Plot to Induce and Effect Soviet Military Intervention
Afghan brain drain fears as Karzai urges education reforms

US considers launching joint US-Afghan raids in Pakistan to hunt down militant groups

Real security in Afghanistan depends on people's basic needs being met
Intractable Afghan Graft Hampering U.S. Strategy
Former Taliban Officials Say U.S. Talks Started
Taliban ready for talks with US, not Karzai government
Emboldened Taliban Try to Sell Softer Image
Leaked NATO Report Shows Pakistan Support For Taliban
Insight: Few options for Afghan, U.S. leaders after Kandahar massacre
Presenter: Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and Daoud Sultanzoy, Tolo Television
NATO’s measured exit plan in Afghanistan faces new obstacles
BFP Exclusive: Karzai Clan Attorney Threatens US Journalist, Uses Intimidation Tactics
Afghanistan Chronicles
Arduous path to Afghan 'end-game'
Fear in the classrooms: is the Taliban poisoning Afghanistan's schoolgirls?
A comment on the recent events of student poisoning in Afghanistan
Rape Case, in Public, Cites Abuse by Armed Groups in Afghanistan
Afghanistan’s Peace Talks Hit Brick Wall
THE ANATOMY OF US’S DEFEAT IN AFGHANISTAN
VOICES OF EMPIRE: FROM CIA’s CULTURAL GREAT GAME TO GLOBAL GREAT GAME TODAY
WHITE PAPER FOR THE PERMANENT PEACE IN AFGHANISTAN
King Karzai
A Federal System of Government is Not Suitable for Afghanistan
CHINA AMO DARYA OIL DEAL
Analysis: Where Afghan humanitarianism ends and development begins
U.S. Envoy: Kabulbank Was 'Vast Looting Scheme'
Speaking with the enemy: how US commanders fight the Taliban during the day and dine with them at night
Afghanistan: Operation Enduring Musery
How to Win Peace in Afghanistan
For Karzai, Stumbles On Road To Election
Cruel human toll of fight to win Afghan peace
Criticism of Afghan War Is on the Rise in Britain
Troops 'fighting for UK's future'
Operation in Taliban hotbed a test for revamped U.S. strategy
Covering Crucial Afghanistan Operation
Afghans still skeptical about Obama
US Defence Department struggling with public release of report on bombing in Afghanistan
Afghanistan on the Edge
Q+A: Who are the Pakistani Taliban insurgents?
Afghanistan Past & Present
Bombs for Pashtoons and Dollars for Punjab
Help! I'm being outgunned on K Street!
ANGELS CHASING DEMONS: “Jesus Killed Mohammad”!
U.S. tested 2 Afghan scenarios in war game
America's Top Diplomat Tells 'Nightline': 'Not Every Taliban Is al Qaeda'
Obama hearing range of views on Afghanistan
What Do Afghans Want? Withdrawal - But Not Too Fast - and A Negotiated Peace
Will Obama change Afghan strategy?
What Do Afghans Want? Withdrawal - But Not Too Fast - and A Negotiated Peace
Afghans tricked into U.S. trip, detained
In the Afghan War, Aim for the Middle
Obama pulled two ways in Afghanistan
Obama Can’t Make Russian Mistake in Afghanistan
10 Steps to Victory in Afghanistan
Gates: Mistake to set time line for Afghan withdrawal
Afghans question what democracy has done for them
High stakes in Afghan vote recount
Two Perspectives On Resolving The Afghan Postelection Crisis
Does the U.S. still have a vital interest in Afghanistan?
Pashtuns and Pakistanis
The Afghan '80s are back
How to Lose in Afghanistan
US in Afghanistan proposes revamped strategy
US 'needs fresh Afghan strategy'
US looks to Vietnam for Afghan tips
Lessons from Vietnam on Afghanistan
Afghan Pres. Skips Country's 1st TV Debate
A proud moment for Afghanistan
Rival to Karzai Gains Strength in Afghan Presidential Election
Afghan presidential candidate withdraws in Karzai's favor
America and international law
Hamid Karzai pulls out of historic TV debate just hours before broadcast
Karzai says no to first Afghanpresidential debate
Afghan election: Can Karzai's rivals close the gap?
Karzai opponents hope to beat him in second round
Afghanistan's Election Challenges
For Karzai, Stumbles On Road To Election
Pentagon Seeks to Overhaul Prisons in Afghanistan
Cruel human toll of fight to win Afghan peace
Karzai’s gimmick
Well-known traffickers set free ahead of election
US president sets Afghan target
U.S. Inaction Seen After Taliban P.O.W.’s Died
Why the Pentagon Axed Its Afghanistan Warlord
Earn our trust or go, Afghans tell GIs
The Irresistible Illusion
Running Out Of Options, Afghans Pay For an Exit
We've lost sight of our goal in Afghanistan
$2,000 for a dead Afghan Child, $100,000 for Any American Who Died Killing it
The strategy is sound – but success is not assured
Operation in Taliban hotbed a test for revamped U.S. strategy
Covering Crucial Afghanistan Operation
Pentagon Seeks to Overhaul Prisons in Afghanistan
Echoes of Vietnam
A Response To General Dostum
Obama orders probe of killings in Afghanistan
Obama admin: No grounds to probe Afghan war crimes
US president sets Afghan target
U.S. Inaction Seen After Taliban P.O.W.’s Died
Afghanistan's Election Challenges
The Irresistible Illusion
Earn our trust or go, Afghans tell GIs
Running Out Of Options, Afghans Pay For an Exit

We've lost sight of our goal in Afghanistan

The strategy is sound – but success is not assured
Stakes High in Afghanistan Ahead of August Elections
$2,000 for a dead Afghan Child, $100,000 for Any American Who Died Killing it
Ex-detainees allege Bagram abuse
Petraeus Is a Failure -- Why Do We Pretend He's Been a Success?
Fierce Battles and High Casualties on the Frontlines of Afghanistan
End the Illegal, Immoral and Wasted War in Afghanistan, says BNP Defence Spokesman
Outside View: Four revolutions
Pakistan's Plans for New Fight Stir Concern
France: liberty, equality, and fraternity – but no burqas
 

 

 

 

 

Echoes of Vietnam

Even the Coalition commanders in Afghanistan wonder if they can win the war
Will history repeat itself in Afghanistan?

British military intervention in Afghanistan has a chequered history, making it easy to conclude that British forces will fail again


 



Hekmatyar's never-ending Afghan war  
Source: Aljazeera By: Mujib Masha  

How one former anti-Soviet ally of the US, who refused to meet Reagan, continues his war four decades later.

The year was 1985. In the heat of the CIA-backed Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union, a delegation of Afghan resistance leaders met with US President Ronald Reagan in the White House, where they were declared the "moral equivalent" to the founding fathers of the United States.

But one prominent visiting commander, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, refused to see the US president, despite reportedly receiving a hefty share of the roughly $200m that the CIA funnelled annually to Afghan guerrillas for defeating the invading Red Army.

Hekmatyar's war never ended, as today, almost four decades later, he fights the US-led coalition in Afghanistan, probably with some of the same weapons that US tax dollars paid for. To many, he epitomises the short-sighted alliances of the US, siding with unreliable figures who, even during their cooperation, openly expressed their dislike for the US world view.

"Known for his Russian killing," as one analyst put it, Hekmatyar instead went on a speaking tour, addressing crowds - of mostly Afghan refugees - in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

"The invite was from the United Nations, not from Reagan," Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, a former aide to Hekmatyar who accompanied him on the trip, told Al Jazeera. Arghandiwal is now President Hamid Karzai's minister of economy.

Richard Bulliet, a professor of history at Columbia University, attended one of Hekmatyar's talks in New York, and said the commander was accompanied by the Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad, a senior advisor on Afghanistan to Reagan's State Department.

Khalilzad went on to become the Bush administration's ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, and most recently the United Nations. He is considered one of the main architects of the post 9/11 Afghan political system.

Bulliet says the trip was under the close watch of Khalilzad, who had instructed Hekmatayr to avoid responding to any question about religion and politics.

"I asked Zal [as Khalilzad is casually known] whether there wasn't a contradiction between US government's disapproval of a militant Islamic regime in Iran and its active support for Mr Hekmatyar, who seemed to me much more militant than the leading Iranians," Bulliet told Al Jazeera.

"Zal said something to the effect that we would cross that bridge when we came to it. And that bridge, in my personal view, was 9/11."

Khalilzad did not respond to Al Jazeera's request for comment.

"My overall impression of the trip was that Hekmatyar was a canny politician who would do whatever Zal dictated to ensure continuing US government's support for his movement. He was using the US."

Unpleasant allies

Anti-US sentiment was not unique to Hekmatyar, one analysts says. The leadership of the Soviet-fighting Mujahideen, who mostly operated in exile out of Peshawar in northwestern Pakistan, was a mixed bunch, consisting of academics emerging from pan-Islamist Muslim Brotherhood circles in Kabul University. Other commanders included religious and tribal leaders with localised ambitions.

For most of them, the alliance with the US was one borne out of necessity, against a more imminent enemy that was knocking at their gate - or had already knocked down the gate.

"In those days, anti-American feelings were definitely in fashion in Pakistan. There was Abdullah Azam, Osama bin Laden and others. There were anti-US publications being circulated" says Wahid Muzhda, now a Kabul-based analyst who had fought against the Soviets and interacted with the leaders in Peshawar.

But others believe the resistance leaders were entirely focused on the Soviet Union, and that anti-US feelings, even for bin Laden, did not emerge until the 1991 Gulf War.

Michael Malinowski, a 1980s US state department official in Pakistan tasked with keeping liaison with the jihadi leaders, says the degree of anti-US sentiment varied among the leaders.

"I would not say the sentiment was pervasive, but it was certainly there. And it was epitomised by Hekmatyar and [Abdul Rab Rasul] Sayyaf. Some of the others were quite grateful for the aid.

"Hekmatyar did not like what the US represented, whether in terms of culture or politics."

Malinowski, between 1987 and 1989, met about ten times with Hekmatyar. The rest of the jihadi leaders, he says, had some "redeeming qualities," but Hekmatyar was solely driven by his ambition.

"He was an unpleasant character and ridiculous at times. He would say things like ‘my party has never received any aid from the US.' You almost wanted to laugh at his face. It was insulting for somebody like me," added Malinowski.

The good Haqqani

Many of the US allies from the time of jihad have subsequently turned against the US - bin Laden being the most prominent.

Another of the visiting leaders to Washington that year, the late Mawlawi Yunus Khalis, is considered a spiritual father to the Taliban. His claim to fame was inviting Reagan to convert to Islam from the podium of the White House.

But one of the most feared US enemies today, Jalaluddin Haqanni of the so-called Haqqani Network, was actually a very cooperative ally in the 1980s.

When a girl's school for Afghan refugees was closed down in Peshawar and the guard was shot dead, most likely by elements close to Hekmatyar, Malinowski says, it was Haqqani who helped them reopen it.

"We needed one of the leaders to give a speech, and ensure the families that nothing [would] happen to the girls. The school did not even belong to his party, but Haqqani agreed to come and give the speech. He was in no way the guy that he is now."

Opinion is divided as to why Hekmatyar, despite giving clear red signals, remained a major US ally.

"Americans said they supported Hekmatyar because he was a good killer of Russians. They didn't care who was cursing the US, what was more important to them was who killed more Russians," Muzhda says.

The Pakistani intelligence agency, the powerful ISI, served as an intermediary for CIA's covert campaign in Afghanistan. All the covert aid, which was matched dollar to dollar by the Saudis, went through the ISI.

"The ISI funnelled most of the cash to Hekmatyar, who was their favourite," Malinowski says, adding that the Pakistani agency was grooming Hekmatyar to lead post-Soviet Afghanistan. "Every time I met others, they would always complain about Hekmatyar getting most of the aid."

After the fall of the Soviet-backed government in Kabul, the factions that had united against a common enemy turned to fighting each other in the power vacuum. Bitterly disagreeing over the make-up of the new "Islamic government", they spent the early years of the 1990s firing rockets from different ends of Kabul, turning the city into rubble, and killing tens of thousands of people.

So fed up were Afghans that they warmly embraced a new group, the Taliban, that rose from the south, promising to rid the country of factional fighting, and to bring security and order.

Pakistan's backing of the newly established Taliban meant that Hekmatyar was no longer Islamabad's favourite. Hekmatyar tried fighting the Taliban. But after being cornered and outnumbered in 1997, he fled to Iran, where he remained until 2002.

With the US intervention in 2001 to topple the Taliban came the hope of a new beginning in Afghanistan. Khalilzad, who had facilitated Hekmatyar's US speaking tour, was now the lead architect of the new political system on behalf of the United States.

Hekmatyar was not invited to that November's Bonn Conference that set up the interim government headed by Karzai. Sources close to the organisers of the conference say considering Hekmatyar's bitter past with the dominant force at the conference, the Northern Alliance, his presence would have been too divisive.

However, representatives from his movement were invited to the conference, including his son-in-law [or the son-in-law of his brother, according to some reports] Humayoon Jarir, who was thought to be speaking for him.

Iran, after nearly going to war with the Taliban during their six year rule over Afghanistan, were relieved that the government was toppled. The Islamic Republic played a major role at Bonn, and the cooperation was considered a positive step in patching up the cold US-Iran relations.

Months later, in what they considered a favour to the US, Iran expelled Hekmatyar and closed down his offices in Tehran. Hekmatyar's openly anti-Shia views and his vocal opposition to the Karzai government, which Iran supported, had become a headache. But the US was uncertain about Iran's decision, a source close to Khalilzad said, considering it a rushed move at best. Or possibly, Iran had turned Hekmatyar into a man without an address, sending him into Afghanistan to use him as a bargaining chip.

The fight against the US

Today, it remains unclear how much of the insurgency in Afghanistan is made up from Hekmatyar's Hizb-e-Islami, partially because, despite his public animosity with the Taliban, the lines between his followers and those of the Taliban remain blurred. During his years in Iran, many of his followers joined the ranks of the Taliban government as, ultimately, they both shared the goal of a strictly Islamic government.

"In comparison to the Taliban, Hekmatyar's Hizb-e-Islami is very weak. I would say it barely makes up 20 per cent of the armed resistance, with Taliban the other 80 per cent," Muzhda says.

"Most of them [Hekmatyar's followers] fight under the Taliban umbrella. In many places, I see former Hizb-e-Islami commanders who fight under the Taliban name. They still have allegiance to Hizb and Hekmatyar, but they have also [the approval of] Mullah Omar now."

Hekmatyar's acitivites are mostly focused in the east and pockets of the north, his traditional strongholds during the anti-Soviet jihad and the factional war that followed.

His ways of operating have remained similar to the 1980s. In letters to his fighters, which still seems to be his preferred medium of communication - as he has reportedly written more than 6,000 in the past nine years - he heavily relies on anecdotes of success from the Soviet Jihad. In one of the letters, he describes the US-led coalition as "unkind, beast-like followers of the Cross".

In another, addressed to his fighters in Kapisa province, one of his strongholds and where French soldiers were "murdered" recently, he writes: "Avoid trench warfare, do not attack established posts - the time for such attacks has not come. Attack the enemy when it is unaware and cannot have measures for defence. Resort to placing roadside bombs and ambushes."

A prolific writer, Hekmatyar, despite rarely ceasing to fight, has managed to publish more than 60 books, mostly religious and political analysis. His rhetorical command is apparent, as in this excerpt in one of his letters: "We need to show the Americans that our patience is high, our stamina is strong, and that we can travel the dark nights. That if you can fight in foreign lands, how can we not fight in our own country? If your mercenary soldiers come from thousands of miles away to fight in our narrow valleys, is our back broken not to defend our homeland? You fight for my imprisonment, and I fight for my freedom."

In recent years, as Karzai has repeatedly reached out to the Taliban in the hopes of finding a political solution to the decade-long war, the Taliban have mainly ignored his olive branch - until, reportedly, a couple of months ago. Hekmatyar, however, has repeatedly expressed his desire for peace. Qutbuddin Helal, one of his aides, has reportedly travelled to Kabul 16 times, but without much progress in talks.

For the US and the Karzai government, Hekmatyar has not been a priority.

"Hekmatyar was seldom discussed," says Valy Nasr, a former adviser on Afghanistan and Pakistan to the late Richard Holbrooke, President Obama's special envoy to the region. "He was seen as the smallest and least powerful of the three elements of [the] Taliban: the Quetta Shura, the Haqqani Network and Hizb-e-Islami. He is a local problem, rather than a strategic one."

For Karzai, analysts say the lack of attention was for two reasons, despite several of his closest aides being formerly associated with Hekmatyar. Karzai's priority remains bringing stability to the south, the hotbed of violence and his ancestral stronghold. The reason for the instability there is reportedly that Taliban-Hekmatyar no longer holds much influence in the area. Additionally, each faction that Karzai has painstakingly managed to unite around the central government, in one way or another, has fought Hekmatyar at some point. He remains too divisive a person to be reintegrated.

All this, despite the fact that Karzai personally owes Hekmatyar - in a tale which must be one of the bizarre episodes of Afghan politics. During the 1990s factional war, then a relatively unknown diplomat, Karzai was arrested and beaten up by the Northern Alliance for his efforts to mediate the return of Hekmatyar, who was holed up outside the city. The future president escaped jail in Kabul in a vehicle provided by Hekmatyar.

Years later, in the post 9/11 administration, Karzai's alleged torturers were part of his first cabinet handed to him in Bonn, Germany. And the driver of the vehicle, Gul Rahman, froze to death in the CIA's network of secret prisons after being arrested during a 2004 raid against Hizb-e-Islami in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.

"Hekmatyar has been an unyielding person, but he has had some unwise advisers who ruined him, and they are all in Kabul now," Muzhda says.

Many of Hekmatyar's former aides have registered Hizb-e-Islami as an "independent political party" in Kabul, under new leadership. Several of them are members of President Karzai's cabinet, as well as holding seats in the parliament - yet they remain vocal in their support for the fugitive Hekmatyar.

"Hekmatyar is an esteemed personality in Afghanistan and there is no doubt about that. But we have come here and registered Hizb-e-Islami under a new leadership," said Arghandiwal, the economy minister who leads the revived and rebranded party.

"Practical conditions are different [for talking to Hekmatyar as opposed to talks with the Taliban]. But the government believes Hekmatyar can play a major role in the peace process."

Whether Hekmatyar has disowned people such as Arghanidwal remains uncertain. Muzhda, who says he has exchanged letters with Hekmatyar, believes the fugitive leader no longer considers those who sided with Karzai as part of his party.

Hekmatyar's whereabouts remain unclear. Some believe he is in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan, along the border with Pakistan. But others doubt, citing, among other things, Hekmatyar's recent publication of a hefty book, of more than 600 pages.

"Is it possible to write a book like that in the mountains of Nuristan?" wonders Muzhda, with a smile.

As to why Karzai and the US have not paid as much attention to dealing with Hekmatyar as the Taliban, though his reintegeration would likely further isolate the Taliban by doing away with one faction of the armed resistance, Muzhda says: "The power of the gun is important - the more you have the more seriously you will be considered. It is like what one analyst told the US government: crush the Haqqani network, talk to the Taliban, and let Hekmatyar's Hizb-e-Islami be. It is a nothing."


 

 

 

The articles and letters are the opinion of the writers and are not representing the view of Sabawoon Online.
Copyright © 1996 - 2014 Sabawoon. All rights reserved.