In a startling move, Hizb-e-Islami chief Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has advised his supporters to help the Islamic State (IS) or Dai’sh in its fight against the Taliban.
Hekmatyar’s controversial remarks came amid reports of fighting between the Taliban and IS in parts of Nangarhar province.
Nearly 80 people, including some known personalities, from both sides have been killed since May 10, senior Afghan Taliban leader Anwarul Haq Mujahid said last week.
Last month, the Taliban issued a warning to Dai’sh leader Abu Bakar Baghdadi asking him to stay out of Afghanistan.
Senior Afghan officials are showing concerns at the looming IS threat and the government of President Ashraf Ghani has raised a special force to fight the group.
“If the Taliban of the Emirate fight with those who have quit the Taliban and declared allegiance to the Islamic State, help these militants, because the Taliban are sworn enemies of Hizb-e-Islami,” Hekamtayr advised his supporters in a statement posted on the Hizb’s daily ‘Shahadat’.
The Hizb-e-Islami itself had been involved in fighting with the Taliban fighters on several occasions and in parts of Maida-e-Wardak province.
Hekmatyar had also kept an option open for his supporters, asking them to stand with the Taliban if they are involved in fighting with the Communists and remnants of Shoora-e-Nazar, a group once led by Ahmad Shah Masood, who was killed by al-Qaeda in September 2001.
The Hizb chief said he has announced this strategy as the enemy had created the Communists, Shoora-e-Nazar and the Taliban against Hizb-e-Islami who do not hesitate to commit crimes against it.
“As these groups are creating new problems in the country so it is suitable time for Hizb-e-Islami to adopt a new approach towards them,” said the former prime minister.
Hekmatyar’s remarks plunged the Hizb-e-Islami into a crisis as its leaders were surprised to see what some described as a statement in favour of Dai’sh.
The Express Tribune has learnt that the Hizb central council is likely to meet soon to explore ways to respond to criticism at Hekmatyar’s remarks.
In a separate statement, Hekmatyar has condemned Iran as “a country against Islam” and said the Islamic Republic was “another Israel for the Islamic countries.”
Hekmatyar accused Iran of “fomenting sectarian hatred between Shias and Sunnis in Pakistan.”
Blasts in Sunni mosques during prayers and the killing of Sunni leaders is the handiwork of Iranian Pasdaran-e-Inqilab (Revolutionary Guards),” he alleged. He mentioned the killing of former NWFP governor Fazale Haq.
“Iran’s politics is based on lies. Iran has always stood with the enemy and stabbed the Muslim Ummah at the back,” the Hizb chief said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2015.