Afghanistan » Peace

Peace talks between Afghan government and Hezb-e-Islami (Hekmatyar)

Published Date: March 19, 2016

 

In a formal statement released on 12 March 2016, Hezb-e-Islami (Hekmatyar) stated that Ashraf Ghani had invited the party to join in the peace process and they have accepted it. [1] It has not been clearly stated whether the party was invited to participate in the Quadrilateral Peace Talks or to start direct negotiations with Afghan government.

However, HI writes in an essay on its pro-website that they have appointed two HI members to conduct peace talks with the Afghan government [2] and according to a source the HI delegation has also arrived in Kabul.

It is not the first time that HI shows willingness to the Afghan peace process or has sent its delegation to Kabul; previously, HI had sent its numerous delegation to Kabul for peace negotiations many times but they have never reached specific conclusions.

The background of the negotiations between the Afghan government and HI, the reasons behind the failure of these talks, and the impacts of the HI joining the Afghan Peace Process are the issue that are analyzed here.

The background of HI and its splinter groups

HI has a forty years background in Afghan politics and the same as Jamiat-e-Islami, HI is a branch of the Islamic Movement of Afghanistan. During the Soviet-Afghan war, HI and Jamiat-e-Islami were the two most influential groups in the country. The two parties had also an important part in the Civil War which occurred quickly after withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan; later-on when the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, they (the Taliban) seized all the areas that were formerly being controlled by HI; thus the leader of HI Engineer Gulbudin Hekmatyar was then forced to leave the country.

During the Taliban regime, HI was marginalized from the Afghan issue but after the US attack on Afghanistan when the new government was established in Afghanistan and foreign troops came to the country; Gulbudin Hekmatyar declared the presence of the foreign troops as ‘occupiers’ and under the name of HI, he began armed struggle against foreign troops which is still continue.

Since 2001, most of HI members have come to Kabul and have taken part in the Afghan government. In 2004 some senior officials of the party including Khalid Faruqi met the head of Afghan interim government Hamid Karzai and cut their ties with Hekmatyar. [3] Later, a party under the name of Hezb-e-Islami was also officially registered in Afghanistan; but still the people affiliated with HI in Kabul were not gathered in one party and are divided into several groups which still exist under this name; the groups of Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, Khalid Faruqi and Waheedullah Sabawoon are its examples.

During the last Afghan presidential election, one faction of HI backed Dr. Abdullah Abdullah; the other which was called the councils of the party backed Zalmai Rasoul in the first and Ghani in the second round of the elections and the remaining members of the party backed Qutbududdin Helal. This fragmentation in the election days also indicates the split in the party.

The background of peace talks between the Afghan government and HI

Although the exact date of the beginning of the HI’s negotiation with the Afghan government is not known, but according to the HI statement these talks begin in 2010. It is noteworthy that before that HI’s some members also had come from Peshawar to Kabul but it is yet to be known whether they had come by themselves or they had been sent by Hekmatyar?

After Barrack Obama won the Presidential elections in US, in December 2009 he announced the beginning of the US troops’ withdrawal by 2011. Using the opportunity which was provided after this announcement and the deteriorated relations between Karzai and the United States, HI sent its delegation under the leadership of Dr. Ghairat Baheer and Qutbudin Helal for peace talks in Kabul. At that time, Hezb-e-Islami proposed a 15-point proposal, the most important of which were as follows:

  1. As of July 2010 the withdrawal of foreign troops must begin and within six months they must leave Afghanistan.
  2. A full turnover of security to the Afghan security forces.
  3. Foreigners should not build prisons inside the country.
  4. All the engaged parties will announce a cease fire.
  5. Foreign fighter will not stay in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of foreign troops.
  6. After the withdrawal of the foreign troops, new presidential and parliamentary elections will be held and until the new election the current President and Parliament would continue functioning.[4]

Karzai’s government did not accept the proposal and thus these talks failed. Later in April 2012, once again HI sent its delegation to conduct peace negotiation with Kabul and this happened at a time where the Taliban’s Political Office in Qatar was about to open and the Afghan government had opposed direct peace talks between the US and the Taliban. Once again the HI delegation presented their peace proposal but the Afghan government was not interested in it.

In 2013, once again the HI delegation came to Kabul for peace talks but these talks failed again. This time, one of the HI members (Qutbududdin Helal) stayed in Kabul and nominated himself in the 1394 presidential elections.

Reasons for failure of Peace talks with the HI

During the second term of the Karzai’s presidency, the HI delegation came to Kabul several times for peace talks but these talks were fruitless and the Afghan government did not come to an agreement with them. From March 2010 to May 2013, 17 times the representatives of HI have come to Kabul[5]. After this date the representatives of HI has also come to Kabul for peace talks but these talks have failed over and over. The reasons of this failure can be listed as follows:

The weak role of HI in the Battlefield: although HI was a great party during the Afghan-Soviet war and had a large number of supporters throughout Afghanistan; but after 2001, HI did not have a significant role in the battlefield; and from this date on, some really important members of this party were appointed as high officials in the Afghan government and thus the party’s power was divided. Therefore; since HI did not have any influential role in the battlefield, the Afghan government did not paid much attention to this party and also the party’s conditions seemed risky to the Afghan government as same as the party itself. Instead of conducting peace talks with this group, Hamid Karzai tried to split those members of the party who had come to Kabul for peace talks (Qutbudin Helal is one of them).

Some opposing groups to HI: HI precedes enmity with some engaged parties in the Afghan issue. Besides that, during its combat against the Afghan government and foreign troops the party has released inflammatory statements addressing the northern alliance and Hazara ethnic groups. The party’s positions about the Northern alliance and the Hazara ethnic group on one hand and the vast presence of these two groups in the Afghan government on the other hand were the reasons why the obstacles were created toward the successful peace talks with this party and why the peace talks with HI failed.

Difficult conditions of the HI: as mentioned before HI presented its proposal for peace talks in 2010. This proposal contained some points that were clearly unacceptable to the Afghan government because according to some analysts from the Afghan government’s policies it appears that the Afghan government does not want peace with its armed oppositions but it wants their complete surrender.

Lack of International and US support: International community and particularly the US did not paid attention to the peace talks between the Afghan government and HI; because they believed that HI did not have any significant role in the battlefield. Therefore they were more interested in talks with the Taliban.

The inclination of the government in the peace talks with the Taliban: there was an idea in the Afghan government that in order to talk separately with each insurgent group it will have to give separate privileges to each one of them and apparently the Afghan government was inclined to peace talks with the Taliban; therefore it did not pay much attention to the peace talks with HI. On the other hand

 Suspicion in the peace talks: although there was a great possibility of the negotiation with HI to succeed because the Afghan Taliban had repeatedly rejected the peace talks with the Afghan government and on the other hand there were some confrontation between the Taliban and HI, thus HI wanted to act against the Taliban and thus was willing to come to the negotiation table with the Afghan government, but the Afghan government considered it as an act to gain privileges and played down the negotiations, therefore the negotiations was failed.

 Fragmentation in the party: after the Jihad against the Soviet Unions, HI was fragmented more than every other party and even now beside the Hekmatyar’s faction there are several other groups under the name of HI including the groups headed by Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, Qutbudin Helal, and Waheedullah Sabawoon. This fragmentation in the group has also resulted to the failure of the party’s peace talks with the Afghan government.

Quadrilateral talks and HI

Through the Afghan ambassador in Pakistan, the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offered HI to participate in the Afghan peace process and then HI in a statement released on 12 March accepted this offer.

HI released its statement about its willingness to join the peace process at a time that the Afghan Taliban rejected to join the peace process. According to the webpage of the HI, a delegation of HI has come to Kabul and will participate to negotiate with the Afghan government. Whether HI will only talk directly with the Afghan government or will also participate in the Quadrilateral talks is yet to be cleared. The probability of HI’s participation in the Quadrilateral peace talks would be known in the upcoming weeks and after face to face talks with the Afghan government.

Since the group of the Taliban led by Mullah Akhtar Mansoor did not participate in the Quadrilateral Talks the Afghan government and Pakistan are failing in their efforts for the peace talks therefore the value of the other groups’ participation in these talks has raised. Thus the Afghan government and Pakistan would try to include the Hezb-e-Islami (Hekmatyar), the Taliban’s group of Mullah Mohammad Rasoul, HI group of Mawlawi Khales and some members of the Mullah Akhtar Mansoor’s group in the Quadrilateral peace talks.

Overall one can say that among the armed oppositions of the Afghan government the group of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor is the most powerful in the battlefield and if this group did not participate in the peace process the peace would not be secured in Afghanistan. But even if HI joined the Quadrilateral Peace Talks, they would not participate in the Afghan government while foreign troops exist in the country and the same as the Taliban they will stand tight on their position about withdrawal of the foreign troops and determining the schedule for the foreign troops to leave the country.

End

[1]  Read the special statement of Hezb-e-Islami  about the peace talks with the Afghan government: http://www.dailyshahadat.com/index.php/site/lekani_details/1858

[2] read more here:http://www.dailyshahadat.com/index.php/site/lekani_details/1863

[3] Read the details about the fragmentation of the party here:

http://www.jamestown.org/programs/tm/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=26615&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=179&no_cache=1

[4]  Read the 15-point proposal of Gulbudin Hekmatyar here: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2010/03/hekmatyars_peace_pla.php

[5]  Read more details here: https://www.afghanistan-analysts.org/adding-the-ballot-to-the-bullet-hezb-e-islami-in-transition/

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