| ||Hizb-i-Islami to contest polls|
By Abasin Zaheer
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KABUL - Hizb-i-Islami chief Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, calling for free and fair presidential and provincial council elections, on Thursday announced the party would fully participate in the 2014 ballots.
Addressing thousands of party workers, including women, at the Loya Jirga’s tent in Kabul, the politician said the Hizb-i-Islami wanted elections without foreign interference.
Arghandiwal believed fair elections were possible only when the opinions of all political groups were incorporated in changes to the electoral law. He said his party would participate in the presidential and provincial council elections, asking workers to obtain voter cards.
The Hizb-i-Islami was against any move that could create problems in the country, he said, vowing to continue efforts for protecting Afghanistan’s sovereignty until his death.
He urged political forces to join hands for bringing peace and stability to the country. “We are against war and want peace in Afghanistan,” he said, while insisting on good relations with the whole world.
He feared the country could once again plunge into a deep political crisis after foreign troops’ withdrawal in 2014. “But we have faith in our security forces that they will be able to defend the homeland without foreign assistance.”
On economic development, Arghandiwal said the government should make efforts at attracting investments in the mining sector.
A senior member of the party, Mudir Sharif, asked the Ministry of Education to introduce a uniform education system in the country, asking parents to send their children to school.
The Hizbi-i-Islami split into two groups five years ago, with Arghandiwal heading one faction and former Prime Minister Gulbadin Hekmatyar the other. Hekmatyar has said his group would continue its armed resistance until all foreign troops withdrew from Afghanistan.
Addressing the gathering, AfghanistanHigh Peace Council chief Salahuddin Rabbani praised the Hizb-i-Islami led by Arghandiwal for cooperating with peace efforts.
“Afghans hate war; it has been imposed on them,” the top peace negotiator said, urging the people to work jointly for the country’s reconstruction so that the blood of mujahidin did not go in waste.