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'Independent, War Free': Ex-Afghan PM Gulbuddin Hekmatyar on Decades of Conflict, China's Influence

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was part of the civil war that killed thousands in the country in the 1990s and plays a role for the future as well.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was part of the civil war that killed thousands in the country in the 1990s and plays a role for the future as well.

When asked about China, Hekmatyar said while it needs support and security, it cannot think of issues beyond its borders.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a warlord-turned-politician who is also a former Afghanistan prime minister and the chief of the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, said in an exclusive interview to News18 that Afghanistan now needed to ‘heal’ from its wounds from decades of conflict even as the United States pulled its troops from the country and Taliban took over the reins of the country.

The 72-year-old was part of the civil war that killed thousands in the country in the 1990s and plays a role for the future as well. He has endorsed elections as a means to form the next government in Afghanistan and has been part of the talks with the Taliban. He was in exile till 2016.

And even as the Doha talks failed and Ashraf Ghani has gone into exile leaving the country in limbo and thousands trying to flee the Taliban rule, Hekmatyar said while it needs support and security, it cannot think of issues beyond its borders. When asked about China’s influence in the region and Uighur fighters, he said, “We are in dire need of security and development to compensate for the forty-year-old conflict in Afghanistan. We need to heal from our wounds before we can think about other issues especially those concerning the world beyond our borders."

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The conflict in Afghanistan has been years long. The 1980’s saw guerilla groups fighting against the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and the Soviet Army, followed by further civil war in the 1990s, a Taliban regime followed by the US invasion.

He called the manner in which the US withdrew troops “appalling and contrary to all humanitarian standards". He added, “The last days of their presence in Afghanistan were tainted with hundreds of deaths, injuries, destruction and devastation. In the twin bomb blasts near the Kabul airport that killed 13 American soldiers, the US military reacted savagely and vindictively. They brutally and indiscriminately opened fire on common civilians who were camped near the airport trying to fly out and seek refuge in foreign countries, the casualties of which were more than a hundred dead and more than two hundred injured. We can say that their departure was filled with vengefulness and hatred towards Afghans - both friends and foe."

But Hekmatyar wishes that war-torn Afghanistan becomes conflict-free. When asked about his vision for the country, he said, “A free, independent, non-aligned, war-free Afghanistan that has a government that is representative of our Muslim and national values. Such is the Afghanistan the majority of our faithful nation desires."

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first published:September 03, 2021, 11:23 IST