Afghan Rebel Leader Breaks With Guerrilla Government
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ An Afghan rebel leader who has been a major recipient of U.S. military aid will boycott meetings of the guerrillas’ interim government until elections are held, his spokesman said today.
It was the latest blow to the Moslem insurgents’ government-in-exile, which has been troubled by bickering and fighting.
The leader, Gulbaddin Hekmatyar of the fundamentalist Hezb-i-Islami rebel group, said he will no longer attend the government’s cabinet meetings until elections are held, his spokesman, Abdul Qadeer Karyab, said in an interview.
The move fulfilled a threat Hekmatyar made earlier this month when he criticized the interim government for not meeting a six-month deadline for elections and the drafting of an Islamic constitution for Afghanistan.
The charismatic rebel leader has repeatedly been accused of treachery by rival guerrilla fighters.
His group was accused of carrying out last month’s massacre of 32 rebels of Jamiat-i-Islami, an equally powerful but more liberal guerrilla group.
Washington, the major supporter of the rebels, condemned the killings in Afghanistan’s northern Takhar province.
Since then, the fighting between the two rebel groups has escalated, and the latest reports claim hundreds may have died in recent clashes.
Jamiat leader Burhanuddin Rabbani called for Hekmatyar’s suspension from the government following the Takhar slayings.
Sibghatullah Mojaddidi, president of the rebels’ interim government, branded Hekmatyar a ″killer″ and claimed he has used U.S. military backing to kill other guerrillas and Afghans. Hekmatyar’s group has been a major recipient of U.S. military aid channeled through Pakistan.
United States policy gives full support to the fragile government-in-exile.
Peter Tomsen, the U.S. special envoy to the guerrillas, was meeting Afghan rebels based in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta today and could not be immediately reached for comment.
Tomsen is on his second tour of Pakistan, where the majority of the anti- Communist rebels are headquartered. Aside from accommodating the fractious guerrilla government, whose membership is limited to seven major rebel parties, Pakistan shelters 3 million Afghan war refugees.
For more than a decade the insurgents have been fighting to topple the Marxist government of President Najib. The guerrrillas also receive military aid from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other Arab states.
In 1979, Moscow sent in troops to back its communist allies against a growing insurgency and to replace one leader with another. But in February the last of more than 100,000 Red Army soldiers left Afghanistan.
Elections were promised by the rebel leadership within six months of its government’s establishment in February.
Syed Gailani, the leader of the moderate National Islamic Front of Afghanistan, holds the Supreme Court portfolio, which puts him in charge of elections. But a spokesman for his group, Azim Nasser-Zia, said the government does not have the money to hold the elections.
″Somehow nothing has been allocated for the Supreme Court to have its own office, let alone conduct an election,″ the spokesman said.
″It can’t be done by just one man.″