October 2008
Background Information Summaries;2008, p2
Hezb-I-Islami ("Party of Islam," HIB) is one of several fundamentalist parties that were active, with U.S. and Pakistani support, in the fight against Afghanistan's left-wing government and the Soviet army in the 1980s. HIB was at one time the largest recipient of aid from Pakistan and the United States. After the withdrawal of Soviet forces in 1989, and the subsequent defeat of the secular government in 1993, HIB engaged in a bitter struggle for supremacy. Its founder-leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, was briefly prime minister, although he never resided in Kabul or convened a cabinet meeting. Pakistan switched its support from HIB to the emergent Taliban, which captured Kabul in 1996. The next year Hekmatyar went into a five-year Iranian exile, and HIB declined. After the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan expelled the Taliban from the capital, Hekmatyar returned to Afghanistan, forming a loose alliance with the Taliban and Al Qaeda aimed at the U.S. and its NATO allies. Subsequently HIB has denied it is in a formal alliance with the Taliban and has entertained a possible participation in the government of President Hamid Karzai.


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