Team of Hezb-e-Islami group of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar hold talks with Karzai

ajtr

Tihar Jail
Banned
Joined
Oct 2, 2009
Messages
12,038
Likes
720
Afghan insurgents Hezb-e-Islami hold talks in Kabul

A delegation from a powerful Afghan militant group has met officials for talks in Kabul, the government says.
The team from the Hezb-e-Islami group of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar held talks with President Karzai, his spokesmen said.
It is the first confirmed direct contact between Mr Karzai and envoys of Mr Hekmatyar, who is wanted by the US.
Hezb-e-Islami fighters are based mainly in eastern Afghanistan and share many aims with the Taliban. The two groups clashed in the north in recent months.
Observers say the talks in Kabul may only be preliminary but they come at a fluid time in Afghan politics, with a peace jirga or tribal gathering due to be held in a few weeks' time and a surge in US-led troop numbers under way.
On Friday the former UN envoy to Afghanistan Kai Eide confirmed he had been holding secret contacts with top Taliban leaders for the past year.Speaking to the BBC, Mr Eide strongly criticised Pakistan's recent arrests of high-ranking Afghan Taliban leaders, saying they had put a stop to the contacts.
The Hezb-e-Islami delegation is headed by a former Afghan prime minister, Qutbuddin Helal, who is deputy to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, another former prime minister.
"I can confirm that a delegation of Hezb-i-Islami... is in Kabul with a plan," Reuters news agency quoted a spokesman for Mr Karzai as saying.
Among the group's reported demands are a pull-out of foreign forces from Afghanistan by this summer, a year ahead of a date indicated by US President Barack Obama for any withdrawal to begin.
They also want fresh elections within a year and a new constitution.
"The main condition is the empowerment of President Karzai to engage in talks and make decisions," a spokesman for Hekmatyar, Wali Ullah, said.
"The aggressive occupying forces should also announce a schedule for leaving Afghanistan."
Clashes with Taliban
Mr Hekmatayar is a highly controversial figure.His group has battled Nato and Afghan forces in Afghanistan's east and north for years, while the Taliban have led the insurgency in the south.
Earlier this month, officials said that at least 60 militants were killed in fighting between the Taliban and Hezb-e-Islami in Baghlan province in northern Afghanistan.
Reports said they had clashed over control of local villages and taxes.
The two groups have previously been allied in their opposition to Afghanistan's central government and the presence of foreign forces.
Along with the Taliban, Hezb-e-Islami has been blamed for much of the insurgent violence in Afghanistan.
Mr Hekmatyar has previously offered to negotiate with the government - on the condition that foreign forces leave the country.
He was one of the main recipients of US military aid during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s, but was later vilified for his part in the fighting among mujahideen factions which killed more than 25,000 civilians in the early 1990s.
He was designated a terrorist by the United States in 2003 for supporting al-Qaeda.
 

ajtr

Tihar Jail
Banned
Joined
Oct 2, 2009
Messages
12,038
Likes
720
Karzai holds peace talks with insurgents

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has held talks with representatives of a major insurgent group whose leader is known for anti-U.S. rhetoric and support for al Qaeda, officials said Monday.

Karzai's deputy spokesman Hamed Elmi told CNN the delegation from the Hizb-i-Islami group of maverick militant Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, which has been behind numerous deadly attacks in Afghanistan, had submitted a peace plan.

"We can confirm that the delegation is in Kabul, they have met with the president and they have a plan with them," Elmi said, adding that he had no knowledge of the plan's contents or any timeline for a government response.

"They have submitted the plan, we're looking at it and analyzing it and will make a decision when we've had time to read it."

Candace Rondeaux, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, described the talks as a "significant" step with global pressure mounting on Afghanistan to reconcile with insurgents as coalition troops plan their exit.

"It's certainly significant in the sense that the door is now open," she told CNN.

"The conversation about reconciliation has been catch-as-you can for the past 10 years but now the deadline to come up with some sort of resolution is really apparent, the pace has quickened."

However she said it would not necessarily pave the way for talks with the Taliban that Karzai's government has been seeking for several months.

Hekmatyar, a former prime minister who was a key figure in resistance to Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, has long been a thorn in the side of coalition forces struggling to make headway in their battle against the Taliban.

Once regarded by the Pentagon as a key military player, he has constantly shifted allegiances, at times expressing support for both the Taliban and al Qaeda, but also a willingness to work with the government if U.S. and NATO forces quit the country.

In a 2006 video message, Hekmatyar pledged backing for al Qaeda's leaders and promised to carry on the fight alongside them against the "infidels." He also called on Afghans to join the fight against U.S.-led troops.

Analysts say Hekmatyar's influence over Hizb-i-Islami may have waned in recent years as the group tries to legitimize itself as a political force in several Afghan regions, but he remains a potent threat to stability.

"He does have military forces at his command and he can make a lot of trouble," Rondeaux added.

The talks with Hizb-i-Islami came as NATO-led troops suffered their latest casualty with the death of a British soldier in Helmand province - the main theater of operations for a major international push against the Taliban.
 

ajtr

Tihar Jail
Banned
Joined
Oct 2, 2009
Messages
12,038
Likes
720
How Pakistani Help Gets in Karzai's Way

Pakistan's arrest of a dozen top Taliban leaders — military commanders, strategic planners and a financier — over the past six weeks is viewed by Afghan and NATO officials with a mixture of relief and suspicion. On one hand, the arrests have disrupted the insurgents' chain of command, making it tougher for the Taliban's war council to relay funds and battle plans to their commanders fighting NATO troops. But according to Afghan officials and diplomats in Kabul, the roll-up of Taliban leaders has dealt a blow to secret, preliminary talks under way during the past six months between President Hamid Karzai and the Taliban, as well as those conducted through a separate channel between the Taliban and U.N. envoys.
Sources consulted by TIME in Peshawar, Kabul and Kandahar all characterize those Taliban commanders picked up by Pakistani intelligence agencies as being more malleable to peace talks with Karzai than a core of hard-liners within the Taliban's ruling shura, or council, who are thought to be hiding in the Pakistani cities of Quetta or Karachi. One foreign diplomat in Kabul says he looked at the list of 14 Taliban arrested by the Pakistanis and thought, "I knew eight of them personally, and they were all in favor of a peace process." This was confirmed by Kai Eide, the U.N.'s former Special Representative in Afghanistan, who told the BBC on March 18 that Pakistan's arrests had cut short "talks about talks" between the U.N. and the Taliban in Dubai.
(See "A Civil War Among Afghanistan's Insurgents?")
In a separate channel, President Karzai tapped his ancient clan connections to send out feelers to Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, until recently the Taliban's top military commander, and other Taliban officials who belonged to the President's Popalzai tribe. This led to one or possibly several secret meetings between the Taliban and Karzai's representatives in Saudi Arabia, brokered by that country's King Abdullah. Baradar was captured in Karachi last month in a joint operation by Pakistani and U.S. intelligence agents, in the first of a string of high-profile arrests. In Kabul, a senior Cabinet official complained to TIME, "The Pakistanis knew every movement that these commanders made inside Pakistan over the last eight years. So why did they arrest them now, when we were starting to get somewhere with the Taliban?"
(See "Was the Taliban's Captured No. 2 on the Outs with Mullah Omar?")
First off, the Obama Administration is upping pressure on Pakistan to crack down on the Taliban, who for the past eight years have been using Pakistani soil, without risk of capture, for R&R, for plotting their battlefield strategies and for gathering funds and fresh jihadi recruits, especially suicidal teenage bombers from Pakistani madrasahs, Islamic religious schools. But Afghan officials, diplomats and former Taliban ascribe more circuitous motives to the Pakistanis. They say that Pakistan's military and intelligence services were peeved that in both the Dubai and the Saudi talks, senior Taliban went ahead to meet with Karzai's representative and U.N. envoys without first getting clearance from the Pakistanis, who had been the Taliban's main backers since they surfaced in the mid-1990s. Basically, says a diplomat, "the Pakistanis are arresting those Taliban they can't control." A former Taliban Cabinet minister and ambassador, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, who served time in Guantánamo, concurs, "Pakistan is making these Taliban vanish so that they can't talk."
Kabul has officially asked for the extradition of the arrested Taliban commanders, but according to Pakistani press reports, Islamabad is refusing. Islamabad also rebuffed U.S. requests to interrogate the captured Taliban without the presence of Pakistani intelligence officers. The upshot, says Thomas Ruttig, a director of Afghanistan Analysts Network, an international think tank in Kabul, is that Pakistan has skillfully put the breaks on the peace process, just as an international consensus, led by the Europeans, is building toward ending NATO'S nine-year conflict with the Taliban through negotiation. "Pakistan would rather there be no talks than talks without their control," says Ruttig.
To build momentum for peace, Karzai in April will hold a jirga, or tribal council, of more than 1,800 parliamentarians, clerics, judges and provincial officials. Farooq Wardak, the Education Minister and organizer of the jirga, tells TIME, "As a nation, we have to agree on the parameters for peace with the Taliban." He says that the "red lines" the Karzai government will refuse to cross in talks with their Taliban adversaries are altering the constitution and withdrawing NATO troops. He adds that many liberal Afghans want safeguards that a future deal with the Taliban won't abolish women's hard-won freedoms in schooling. Many Afghans, he says, also have bitter memories of killings carried out against non-Pashtun communities during the harsh Taliban regime.
So, what does Pakistan want? A senior Afghan diplomat says that when Karzai flew to Islamabad on March 11, he was told by Pakistan's army chief, Ashraf Parvez Kiyani, that Pakistan will nudge the Taliban into future peace talks with Karzai only when the Afghan President starts curtailing the growing influence of India, Pakistan's regional rival, in Afghanistan. Also, according to these sources, Pakistan wants to see a greater Pashtun representation in Kabul, not only Taliban but also two other insurgent groups, the Haqqani network, which operates in eastern Afghanistan, and former warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's group. Both Haqqani and Hekmatyar have long-standing ties with Pakistani's intelligence services.
 

ajtr

Tihar Jail
Banned
Joined
Oct 2, 2009
Messages
12,038
Likes
720
Taliban say not involved in Kabul peace talks

KABUL: The Taliban are not involved in peace talks between an insurgent faction and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and will not agree to talks until Western troops are withdrawn from the country, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

Karzai's office said on Monday he had held his first direct talks in Kabul with a senior delegation from Hezb-i-Islami, one of the three main insurgent groups in the country and rivals to the Taliban.

The meeting was an unprecedented success in Karzai's efforts to reach out to insurgents this year, a crucial time when Washington is sending a “surge” of extra combat troops before planning to start withdrawing next year.

Although the talks appeared to be preliminary, the publicly acknowledged face-to-face meeting was a significant milestone: previous contacts with insurgents have been furtive and conducted through mediators, mostly overseas.

The Hezb-i-Islami team, which included the son-in-law of the group's fugitive leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, brought a 15-point peace plan including a call for all foreign troops to withdraw this year, though a spokesman said the demands were negotiable.

A separate peace with Hezb-i-Islami could markedly change the balance of power on the ground in the east and northeast of the country where the group is mostly active.

But the main prize would be talks with the Taliban themselves, more powerful than at any time since they were driven from Kabul in 2001 by US-backed Afghan militia.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said his movement, which refers to itself as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the country's name when it ruled from 1996-2001, had not altered its position: that no talks could be held until troops withdraw.

“The Islamic Emirate has a clear position. We have said this many, many times. There will be no talks when there are foreign troops on Afghanistan's soil killing innocent Afghans on daily basis,” Mujahid said.

“If the representatives from Hezb-i-Islami are in Kabul for talks, it's their choice,” he added.

Taliban encroach on Hezb-i-Islami turf

The Taliban, the biggest insurgent group, have their bases in the south, but operate throughout much of the country and have encroached on Hezb-i-Islmai turf in the northeast and east in recent months.

Taliban fighters clashed with Hezb-i-Islami militants in the north of the country two weeks ago, which the government said led some Hezb-i-Islami guerrillas to seek its protection.

Although direct contacts between the government and senior Taliban officials have been denied by both sides, Western officials say they believe indirect and lower-level contacts have taken place throughout eight years of war.

The outgoing UN mission chief in Kabul, Kai Eide, said last week he had held meetings with Taliban representatives over the past year, which ended abruptly this year when Pakistan arrested the number two Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

Some Afghan officials have said the government had made contact with Baradar, and blame Islamabad for arresting him to ensure that it has leverage over any future talks.

Karzai's spokesman has said the government had no “direct” contacts with Baradar, but declined to comment on whether it had had “indirect” contacts.
 

Latest Replies

Global Defence

New threads

Articles

Top