Bloody déjà vu: Hekmatyar raises spectre of 1990s-like civil war

Afghanistan would slide into a bloody civil war if the US-led coalition forces walked away without cutting a peace deal with a medley of resistance groups in the war-torn country, says an elusive Afghan warlord and former prime minister.

The warning from Engineer Gulbuddin Hekmatyar – who also heads the Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) — came as foreign forces prepare to pull out after fighting a bloody and costly war for 12-plus years. So far, the United States and its allies have failed to make peace with the Taliban or any other militia.

“If the Nato forces withdraw without [striking] a [peace] accord with Mujahideen, there is a strong possibility that Afghanistan will experience a bitter and bloody repeat of what had happened following the pullout of Soviet troops [in 1989],” Hekmatyar told The Express Tribune in an exclusive interview on Sunday. The questions were sent to him through his representatives.

Afghanistan had slid into a bloody civil war after the withdrawal of Soviet troops which had claimed thousands of lives and caused colossal destruction, especially in Kabul. Factional fighting paved the way for the emergence of the Taliban who took over Kabul in 1996 and ruled the country until their regime was toppled by the US-led coalition in 2001.

“Statements from US generals indicate that they want to keep some troops [in Afghanistan] post 2014 and maintain control over nine military bases. This only means a ‘permanent invasion’ which will result in a continuation of the war,” said Hekmatyar, who leads the second largest armed group after the Taliban.