Why are the Taliban Against Hekmatyar?
On Friday, February 3rd, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of Hezb–e Islami in Afghanistan, declared during the final sermon of Friday‘s prayer that Friday prayers would be prohibited due to security concerns. However, sources suggested that the Taliban‘s disapproval of the way in which the prayers were conducted was the actual cause.
The Taliban have mandated that all preachers in Afghanistan must use the content provided by the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs during their Friday sermons. This content includes prayers for the protection and success of Amir al–Mu‘minin, Hibatullah Akhundzada. Any defiance of this order will result in the immediate dismissal of the preacher and the imposition of penalties. Hekmatyar had been disregarding this order until his last sermon, and in some cases, he even spoke out against the Taliban‘s policies. He was vocal in his opposition to the Taliban’s stance on girls‘ education, claiming that it was contrary to Islamic values. He also disagreed with the Taliban‘s definition of hijab, arguing that their strictness regarding women‘s clothing was not in line with the principles of Sharia and the views of religious scholars and mujahedeen.
For many years, Hekmatyar had been in opposition to the Republic regime. However, due to his agreement with Ashraf Ghani, he came to Kabul and was provided with a large house in the Darulaman area. Ghani‘s government also gave him many benefits, such as guards and a monthly allowance for his relatives, and appointed them to government positions. However, when the Taliban took control of Kabul, Hekmatyar lost all of these privileges and was subjected to restrictions. A photograph taken when Khalil Haqqani visited Hekmatyar in the early days of the Taliban‘s rule in Kabul showed that the golden era for Hekmatyar had come to an end; in the photo, Khalil Haqqani was seen talking to Hekmatyar, holding a Russian AK–47.
Since the Taliban‘s emergence in 1994, Hekmatyar has attempted to maintain a close relationship with them, yet they have disregarded him and refused him. This refusal could be due to a variety of reasons, including the fact that the Taliban‘s philosophy of existence is in opposition to well-known jihadist leaders. When the Taliban emerged in the 1990s and spread quickly, they capitalized on people‘s discontentment with jihadi parties, claiming to bring order and stability to the country by eliminating the party and partisanship.
Hekmatyar is far more knowledgeable and articulate in matters of religion than the Taliban leaders, and is able to draw people to him and create a platform for himself through his use of language. Since its inception, the Taliban has made it clear that it will not allow any independent voices to gain a foothold and platform under its rule, and will not tolerate any dissenting voices. Salam Abed, one of the Mullahs of Jamiat Eslah, had been working and propagating for the Taliban during the Republican regime, but as soon as the Taliban took power, they prevented him from speaking in the pulpit of Abdul Rahman Mosque, and even planted explosives on the side of the road in an attempt to kill him. The Taliban are highly monopolistic and will not accept any opposition, particularly from the pulpits of mosques.
Some of the Taliban‘s leaders, including Abdel Rahman Mansour, are reported to have a personal animosity towards Hekmatyar. Mansour was the governor of Kabul in the early days of the Taliban and is one of the influential figures of the group, having a close relationship with Abdul Qayum Zakir. He is the son of Nasrullah Mansour, a Jihadi leader. Supporters of Nasrullah Mansour believe that Hekmatyar was involved in his murder, which could explain why restrictions have been imposed on Hekmatyar due to the personal enmity of some Taliban leaders.
The opposition of the Taliban towards Hekmatyar is rooted in the differences between their ideologies. Hekmatyar has an intellectual affinity with Jama’at–e–Islami Pakistan, while the Taliban‘s mindset is related to Deobandi schools. This has caused a conflict between the followers of Maududi and the students and scholars of Deobandi schools, which has been extended to the relationship between Hekmatyar and the Taliban, making it tense. The presence of the Taliban in Afghanistan has brought this conflict to the country from Pakistan, causing Salafist Mullahs to be disturbed. However, Hekmatyar‘s books and writings suggest that, although he is radical and fundamentalist in terms of political tendencies, his mind is open to new thoughts. He has even criticized Sahih al–Bukhari and deemed many of its narrations invalid. In contrast, Deobandi leaders do not accept new religious concepts and are quick to accuse people of heresy, immorality, and disbelief.
When the Taliban regained power, Hekmatyar made a concerted effort to demonstrate his loyalty to the Taliban by using the Friday prayers as a platform. He spoke out against the National Resistance Front and spread damaging propaganda by making various accusations against its leaders. He believed that this display of arrogance would ensure his relationship with the Taliban. However, in a quarter of a century, the Taliban have made it clear to everyone that they do not accept anyone who is not a member of the Taliban.
The Taliban are strongly opposed to democracy and freedom of speech, believing that the presence of multiple voices would be detrimental to their regime. Recent events have demonstrated this. Ismail Mashal, a university professor, was vocal in his opposition to the ban on girls‘ education, using peaceful methods such as distributing books to those interested. As a result, he was beaten and arrested. Similarly, Zakaria Osuli, an innocent citizen from Panjshir, was encouraging people to read books, particularly those of a historical nature. His activities were not in line with the cultural policies of the republic, and he had written and compiled a book on the re–evaluation of certain historical events. The Taliban arrested him, and his whereabouts are currently unknown.
Radical groups are distinguished by their exclusivism, which leads them to take an eliminationist approach towards non–fundamentalist opponents, refuse to compromise with internal rivals, and not hesitate to isolate them. The Taliban‘s treatment of Hekmatyar, Jamiat Eslah, Hizb ut–Tahrir, and other fundamentalist groups serves to bolster this assertion.