Mujahidin Attempts to Govern, 1992-95

Afghanistan Table of Contents

Mujaddidi had little chance to organize a government during his two months as interim president. Hekmatyar was an immediate threat: Mujaddidi was nearly killed when his plane was hit by a Hezb rocket. The cumbersome Leadership Council assured meddling by the parties, and the government's very uncertain security depended on a motley mix of army units taken over from Najib's government, Mausood's forces, and elements of Dostam's militia. Attempting to find maneuvering room, Mujaddidi favored Dostam as a regional power whom he might balance against Massoud, who had taken charge of the defense ministry. The President raised Dostam's rank from militia chief to senior army general.

Mujaddidi attempted to extend his short term, but lacked the political leverage to offset the military weakness of his party. His resentment toward Rabbani, his successor, would later add to the rivalries between mujahidin politics.

Rabbani and Massoud attempted to create a national army by recruitment of mujahidin rank and file primarily to gain government control over Kabul itself. It had been divided into separate armed camps of mujahidin who settled among their own ethnic groups clustered in separate neighborhoods. These efforts were interrupted by Hekmatyar's first major rocket attack on the city in August, 1992. His forces were pushed back jointly by Massoud and Dostam. Under Pakistani pressure Rabbani agreed to a cease-fire which brought general peace to the city for more than three months. Massoud attempted to recruit leaders from other parties, including the Shias, for senior military positions. Mazari's Hezb-i-Wahdat party was assigned two cabinet positions.

With Hekmatyar apparently deflated, Rabbani's government concentrated on preparing for a national shura which was to draft a constitution and choose an interim government for the next eighteen months. The accord reached in Peshawar in April called for elections at the end of the second interim period. The Leadership council gave Rabbani an extension until December to complete the drafting. His proposal for the next interim period was ambitious. He called for a Shura-yi-Ahl-i Hal-u-'Aqd (Council of Resolution and Settlement). A comprehensive effort was made to convene a large assembly representing sentiment in every district in the country. Some 1,400 representatives were brought to Kabul in mid-December where they overwhelmingly (916 to 59 with 366 abstentions) voted to elect Rabbani to a full two-year term, not the eighteen months mandated by the Peshawar accords.

The backlash from this decision reshuffled alignments and took the Islamic Republic's politics in an uncharted direction. Among the major parties only Jamiat (from which Rabbani formally resigned to assume the new presidency), Muhammad Nabi's Harakat, and Sayyaf's Ittehad accepted the election. Gailani and Mujaddidi (vexed already by the extension of Rabbani's term) joined Khalis, Hekmatyar, Mazari, and Dostam to oppose it on grounds that the election had been rigged and was not representative of the country. Rabbani had attempted to garner a popular mandate and instead had united his rivals, greatly strengthening Hekmatyar's position.

Rabbani was immediately thrown on the defensive, politically and militarily. Alienated by government attempts to get control of the city, the Shia Wahdat had attacked the government in western Kabul before the council met and was temporarily supported by Dostam's units on the other side of the city. These assaults were quickly repulsed, but immediately after Rabbani's election Hekmatyar attacked with Wahdat support. The city was again massively rocketed until mid-February. Only three foreign embassies remained open in the capital: Italy's, India's, and China's. For the government there was one compensation: Sayyaf, the most consistent ideologue of the party leaders, maintained his alliance with the government in order to pursue his sectarian struggle with the Shias

Custom Search

Source: U.S. Library of Congress