Biography of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar


By Abdullah Qazi / 1997

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, originally from Baghlan, is the head and founder of Hezbi Islami. Hekmatyar, who is now in his late forties, first studied at the military academy; then in 1968, he switched to the engineering department of Kabul University. Although Hekmatyar is sometimes referred to as “Engineer Hekmatyar”, he never graduated from Kabul University with a degree in engineering. Nevertheless, he is more outspoken than any other figure in Afghan politics. Before becoming a “devout” Muslim and getting into Islamic politics, Hekmatyar spent four years in the PDPA (People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan). The PDPA was the Afghan communist party comprising both Parchami and Khalqi groups. In 1972, Hekmatyar was put in prison for killing a Maoist student. He then fled to Pakistan and founded Hezbi Islami. Historians claim that in 1975, Hekmatyar instigated the anti-Daoud insurrection in Panjshir. Hezb members and Hekmatyar refute his Communist background, and they consider it an insult.

Hekmatyar has been accused by almost every other political party of being a puppet of Pakistan and the United States. The truth is that while he has received numerous aid from the Pakistanis and the Americans, he was always working for himself. He used the Pakistanis and the Americans as they used him. It is also true that he had close connections with the ISI of Pakistan, and that he was extensively trained by them. Pakistani officials at that time described Hekmatyar as being a power hungry, cunning, and a ruthless fanatic who would do anything to be on top. Many of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s detractors believe that Hekmatyar wants Afghanistan to be governed according to his parties ideology, and he will not let anyone or anything stand in his way. Even though Hekmatyar’s Hezbi Islami received millions of dollars worth of military and financial aid from the United States, they still failed to liberate Afghanistan from the Communists. In fact, many Afghan political analysts accuse Hekmatyar of killing more Mujahideen members than Communists.

When the Communist regime fell in Kabul, Hekmatyar and his party were invited by the new Mujahideen government to take part and help build an Islamic government in Afghanistan. Hekmatyar was offered the Prime Minister’s position, and he refused it. He labeled the Mujahideen government as being unislamic, and not what the people wanted. As most political analysts predicted, Hekmatyar emerged as one of the most formidable enemies of the Islamic government, created by Mujahideen leaders like Burhanuddin Rabbani. Hekmatyar refused to discuss power sharing with other political parties and launched several unsuccessful efforts to seize power by force in Kabul.

Hekmatyar’s rocket attacks created tremendous hardships for the ordinary people of Kabul, and inflicted heavy material losses to the government and people. Some analysts may even say that because of Hekmatyar’s aggression against the Islamic government of Afghanistan, the government was weakened so much that the Taliban militia had a tremendous advantage when they started their campaign against the government. Hekmatyar continued to enjoy the support of some Arab and Pakistani opportunists in his war against the government. There were even Pakistani and Arab volunteers fighting for him against the government.

Hekmatyar launched his campaign against the government under the name of driving out “communist militias”, but by the end of the 1992, he not only dropped this demand but he also struck a deal with Abdul Rashid Dostum (former communist) and Hezbi Wahdat to form a common front against the government. Dostum and Hezbi Wahdat were Hekmatyar’s former enemies. Rocket attacks on Kabul, and alliances with forces of the former regime (Khalqis and Dostum) degraded Hekmatyar in the eyes of the ordinary Afghan. Hekmatyar’s cries for the formation of a pure Islamic government have taken on an air of self-parody.

In the beginning of 1993, Hekmatyar again was offered the seat of Prime Minister, and this time he accepted. He served as Prime Minister from March 1993, until January 1994. In early 1994, Hekmatyar, not satisfied with his power with the government aligned himself once again with Dostum to topple Rabbani’s Islamic government; they failed. Nevertheless, the government of Afghanistan tried again to settle peacefully with Hekmatyar. His rocket attacks had almost completely destroyed Kabul, and the government was really weakening as a result of holding back Hekmatyar’s aggression. At last, in June of 1996, Hekmatyar once again accepted the position of Prime Minister.

In late 1996, the Taliban, a militia suspected of being created and funded by the Pakistanis, overran Kabul and forced Rabbani and Hekmatyar to flee north. Today, Hekmatyar states that he no longer recognizes, nor is a part of the Islamic government, led by President Rabbani. Most of Hekmatyar’s men defected to the Taliban and currently he is very weak militarily and financially, especially since Pakistan withdrew their support for him. It seems that the Taliban are succeeding where Hekmatyar failed.

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