Warlord's offer complicates Afghan peace

Feb. 12, 2010 at 1:34 PM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- A peace initiative offered by Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar could create tensions in the government's plans to court insurgents, lawmakers said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in January he would convene a loya jirga to examine ways to bring moderate insurgents into the political fray. U.S. military planners credited a similar counterinsurgency plan in Iraq with bringing the country back from the brink of civil war.

The Taliban, however, said they would not discuss any reconciliation effort while foreign troops were in Afghanistan.

Hekmatyar, the rebel leader of Hizb-i-Islami, offered his own initiative that called for international forces to leave within 18 months in order to talk, The Christian Science Monitor reports.

In addition, Hekmatyar calls for an interim government to take control of the government in Kabul while tribal elders discuss drafting a new constitution for Afghanistan. Hekmatyar would then disarm, the report said.

Bakhtar Aminzay, an Afghan senator, told the newspaper that Hekmatyar's announcement could complicate reconciliation efforts.

"The government must talk to Hekmatyar and the Taliban at the same time," he said. "If you make a deal with Hekmatyar and not the Taliban, the problem could get worse."

Hekmatyar, who served briefly as the Afghan prime minister in the 1990s, is on a U.N. list of terrorists. The U.S. State Department, meanwhile, links him to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

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