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HEKMATYAR, GULBUDDIN (b. 1947?), leader of Hizb-i Islam! Afghanistan, one of the major Islamic political parties in Afghanistan. Hekmatyar is a Pushtun from a branch of the Kharoti tribe that resettled in the northern province of Kunduz. While a student in the College of Engineering at Kabul University in the late 1 960s, Hekmatyar became one of the founders of the Organization of Muslim Youth (Sazman-i Javanan-i Musulman). Inspired by the writings of Sayyid Qutb and other Islamic political theorists to whom they were introduced by professors at the university, Hekmatyar and the other members of the Muslim Youth were actively involved in campus politics, particularly in response to the increasing activism of Marxist political parties that were also seeking members from the student population.

In 1972 Hekmatyar was arrested and imprisoned for his involvement in a campus demonstration in which a leftist student was killed. Released at the end of his sentence in 1973, Hekmatyar and other leaders of the Muslim Youth went into exile in Peshawar, Pakistan, where they began planning the violent overthrow of the government of President Muhammad Da’ud. In 1975 Hekmatyar became the secretary (munshi) and head of military operations for the party. In this capacity, he was one of the principal proponents and organizers of a controversial plan to stage a coup d’etat with sympathetic members of the military while simultaneously mounting rural insurrections in a number of provincial centers. The plan, which was carried out in July 1975, collapsed when the expected surge of popular support failed to materialize, and most of the top leaders of the Muslim Youth were captured and executed, either by the Da’ud government or later after the Marxist takeover in 1978. Following the failure of this operation, Hekmatyar became the dominant figure in the Organization of Muslim Youth, which was reconstituted as Hizb-i Islamil Afghanistan in this same period.

As leader of Hizb-i Islam! during the thirteen-year guerrilla war against the Marxist government in Afghanistan (1978-1992), Hekmatyar proved to be a controversial figure. He was respected for his organizational skills and energy and held in some awe for his oratorical powers and charismatic presence, but he has nevertheless inspired much hostility. Ruthless in his suppression of dissidents within the party and as energetic in fighting rival parties as in attacking enemy forces, Hekmatyar has frequently been accused of undermining the unity of resistance efforts in his search for power. Although he is recognized personally as one of the least corrupt of the major party leaders and one of the most successful at gaining international diplomatic and financial support for the resistance, he is also resented by many traditional Afghans for interjecting a divisive brand of revolutionary Islamic ideology into the jihad.

After the overthrow of the Marxists in April 1992, Hekmatyar stayed on the fringes of the coalition government that was established in Kabul from among the former resistance parties. He accused the new regime of opportunistically conspiring with Marxists and former militia leaders and of playing on Pushtun fear of Persian and Uzbek dominance in the new government. He set up a base of operations in Logar Province south of Kabul, where he sometimes shelled the capital and sometimes negotiated with the coalition leaders. In March 1993, an accord negotiated in Islamabad made him prime minister, but as his main rival, Ahmad Shah Mas’ud, was made defense minister, the shelling did not stop and Hekmatyar’s national authority was only nominal.

[See also Afghanistan; Hizb-i Islam! Afghanistan.]


Edwards, David B. “Summoning Muslims: Print, Politics, and Religious Ideology in Afghanistan.” Journal of Asian Studies 52.3 (1993)S 6o9-628.

Naby, Eden. “The Changing Role of Islam as a Unifying Force in Afghanistan.” In The State, Religion, and Ethnic Politics: Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan, edited by Ali Banuazizi and Myron Weiner, pp. 124-154. Syracuse, N.Y., 1986.

Roy, Olivier. Islam and Resistance in Afghanistan. Cambridge, 1986. Shahrani, M. Nazif, and Robert Canfield, eds. Revolutions and Rebellions in Afghanistan: Anthropological Perspectives. Berkeley, 1984.


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/hekmatyar-gulbuddin/

  • writerPosted On: June 10, 2013
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