The Hizb-i Islami (Islamic Party), led by Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, including its history, treatment of members by the Taliban, and membership documentation (1993-2000) [AFG35512.E]

The following information on the Hizb-i Islami was obtained from the Website of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) (8 Aug. 1998).

The Hezb-i-Islami (Islamic Party) was initially one of the most disciplined of the guerrilla groups that fought against Soviet occupation. Even though Hezb-i-Islami received millions of dollars worth of military and financial aid from the United States, they still failed to liberate Afghanistan from the Communists. The major Afghan political factions are largely based on the former resistance organizations. Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-i-Islami (Islamic Party) and President Burhanuddin Rabbani's Jamiat-i-Islami (Islamic Society) have been bitter rivals for political influence in Afghanistan. Following the Soviet withdrawal, the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) initially supported the Hizb-i-Islami under Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar to dislodge the Rabbani government. Pakistan feared that an exclusively non-Pashtun government of President B. Rabbani would lead Afghanistan's Pashtuns to revive the demand for Pashtunistan.
On 01 January 1994, troops in Kabul commanded by the leader of the National Islamic Movement (NIM), General Abdul Rashid Dostam, theretofore aligned with President Rabbani, switched to Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's side. Aided by forces loyal to Hekmatyar, they attempted a coup d'etat against President Rabbani. The President's forces quickly countered and the attempt was foiled, but the protracted fighting caused heavy civilian casualties and the destruction of much of Kabul, and the ensuing fighting engulfed much of northern parts of the country. Fighting raged in Kabul's old business district, with both sides employing heavy weapons and air strikes which took a heavy toll of civilian life and wreaked destruction on much of Kabul. In February 1994 Prime Minister Hekmatyar imposed a food blockade on northern Kabul, the area controlled by President Rabbani's troops.
In July 1994 Commander Naser of Laghman Province, who was affiliated with Hekmatyar's party, and 10 of his bodyguards were reportedly murdered as Naser traveled to meet with a rival. In September 1994 Commander Sadiq, also a follower of Hekmatyar, and his bodyguard were murdered in Nangarhar Province while returning from a visit to Pakistan. Sadiq was rumored to have been involved in narcotics trafficking, a Pashtun intratribal dispute, and the factional fighting in Kabul--any of which may have provided the motive for his murder. President Rabbani's forces apparently targeted Hekmatyar himself in a 12 August 1994 air raid that demolished his living quarters. Subsequent air attacks were made on a hospital facility where Hekmatyar was thought to be under treatment for injuries sustained in the August 12 air raid; in fact he had escaped serious injury.
Eventually, the remarkable success of the Taleban, and economic considerations, led to Pakistan's policy change in 1994-95 towards its support for the Taleban. In February 1995 the Taleban drove former Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's forces out of southern Kabul and disarmed Hizb-i-Islami Shi'a forces allied with Hekmatyar.

The following excerpt from an August 1998 article by Barnett R. Rubin, Director of the Center for Preventive Action, Senior Fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, and a noted specialist on Afghanistan, corroborates the information that the Hizb-i Islami has been in a weakened state since being defeated militarily by the Taliban:

Islamic Party of Afghanistan (Hizb-i Islami-yi Afghanistan) - Hikmatyar. This formerly radical Islamist party, led by Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, was favoured by Pakistan throughout the jihad and subsequently became Pakistan's main vehicle for attempts to oust the Rabbani regime. In the face of the Taliban, who captured most of his heavy weapons and became Pakistan's newly favoured clients, Hikmatyar joined Rabbani's government as Prime Minister in June 1996, thereby claiming a role he had formally exercised under an agreement reached in Islamabad in March 1993. After a sojourn in Iran, he returned to north Afghanistan to join the United Front. He now controls few military or political resources.

Media reports indicate that many high-profile Afghan leaders, including those of the Hizb-i Islami, have been targeted by the Taliban (The Herald Mar. 1999; DPA 11 June 1999; Dawn 11 June 1999; Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran 17 July 2000).

In March 1999 The Herald reported that there had been a "string of murderous attacks in Peshawar since October 1998":

... at least seven prominent Afghan politicians and intellectuals have been killed while many others have been wounded. All the victims were ethnic Pakhtuns of moderate leanings and a strong anti-Taliban bias.
Attacks on Afghan refugees in Peshawar are nothing new, but their frequency has clearly increased with the advent of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 1994-95. Among the more high-profile Afghan leaders who have been killed in Peshawar since 1995 are Haji Khanzada, Dr Laudin, General Raz Mohammad, Commander Kake of the Eastern Shura, three commanders of Gulbadin Hekmatyar's Hizb-i-Islami, and at least five commanders of the moderate Shura-i-Tafahum-o-Hamahangi Afghanistan. Another prominent Afghan, General Naza Mohammad Nazar, who was the Afghan defence minister in the Babrak Karmal regime, was killed by two assailants on a motorbike in Quetta in July 1998.

On 11 June 1999 media sources reported that another former Hizb-i Islami commander, Mohammad Khan, had been shot to death by a group of armed gunmen in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's Baluchistan province (Dawn 11 June 1999; DPA 11 June 1999). Although the identities of the attackers was not clear, family members accused the Taliban of involvement in the killing (ibid.; Dawn 11 June 1999).

On 27 July 2000 Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran reported that the Taliban had detained Bashir Baghlani, a well-known figure and former governor of Baghlan Province north of Kabul. Bashir Baghlani, a former member of the Hizb-i Islami, was one of Hikmatyar's most influential commanders (ibid.).

Additional information on the Hizb-i Islami can be found in the February 1997 Research Directorate publication Afghanistan: Chronology of Events January 1995-February 1997.

Information on Hizb-i Islami membership documentation could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Dawn [Karachi]. 11 June 1999. "Hizb-i-Islami Commander Shot Dead in Quetta." [Accessed 14 June 1999]

Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA). 11 June 1999. BC Cycle. "Former Afghan Commander Shot Dead in Western Pakistan." (NEXIS)

Federation of American Scientists (FAS). 8 August 1998 (last update). "Hizb-i-Islami (Islamic Party)." [Accessed 24 Oct. 2000]

The Herald [Karachi]. March 1999. Vol. 30, No. 3. Rizwan Qureshi. "The Afghan War Visits Peshawar."

Rubin, Barnett R. August 1998. "Afghanistan: Persistent Crisis Challenging the UN System." [Accessed 24 Oct. 2000]

Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran [Mashhad, in Persian]. 27 July 2000. "Taleban Arrest Ex-Governor Who Intended to Join Opposition." (BBC Summary 28 July 2000/NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB databases.


World News Connection (WNC).

Internet sites including:

Afghanistan Today.

Hizb-i Islami Afghanistan.

Interactive Central Asia Resource Project (ICARP).

Online Centre for Afghan Studies.

Rubin, Barnett R. 8 October 1998. Testimony on the Situation in Afghanistan Before the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

UK Home office country assessments.