Afghan warlord and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar rejects US troop increase

Vastavam web: Infamous Afghan warlord and ex-prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar rejected any increase in US troops today as he said elections were the only way to bring stability to the war-torn country.The 70-year-old, known widely in the international press as the “Butcher of Kabul”, told reporters that Afghanistan desperately needed “a strong central government led by a powerful president”.”Without this it is impossible to bring peace and stability to the country,” he said, in his first press conference with foreign media since returning to Afghanistan after more than twenty years in exile.

“Hezb-i-Islami is ready to co-operate with the government and bring in security and stability unconditionally,” Hekmatyar said, referring to the largely dormant militant group he heads.”We accept that elections should be the only way to get to power and the participation of political parties in elections is the only way forward,” he added.Hekmatyar, white-bearded and wearing his trademark black turban, also said that Donald Trump would be wrong to send more American troops to Afghanistan, something the United States president is believed to be considering.

“We want the international community to help Afghans stop foreigners and neighbours from interfering,” he added. Hekmatyar is one of several controversial figures that Kabul has sought to reintegrate in the post-Taliban era.General Abdul Rashid Dostum, another warlord, is Afghanistan’s first vice president.It marked a symbolic victory for President Ashraf Ghani, who has struggled to revive peace talks with the more powerful Taliban.

But it has angered human rights groups and Kabul residents who survived the civil war.During his exile he was believed to be in hiding in Iran and perhaps Pakistan, but his group claimed he remained in Afghanistan.Afghan civilian deaths are at their worst since records began in 2009 as the country’s beleaguered security forces battle the Taliban and the Islamic State group.Hekmatyar dismissed fears that IS fighters, on the back foot in Iraq and Syria, were arriving in Afghanistan.