FORMER Afghan Prime Minister Gulbadin Hekmatyar has said that Mr Osama bin Laden is alive, in a video message reported by a private TV channel on Monday. Mr Hekmatyars statement does two things at the very beginning: first, it establishes that Mr Hekmatyar knows of the health of bin Laden, and second, it shows that all US efforts, which have included raining down missiles on the territory of a state supposedly an ally in violation of its sovereignty, have failed. Mr Hekmatyar has also said that he has no link with the Haqqani network, and claimed that his network is spread across Afghanistan. He should keep in mind, from his struggle against the USSR, that mujahideen groups operating on their own will not have the desired effect, but must show unity in their operations, which have succeeded enough to oblige the USA to consider seriously a troop surge. Again, it is his memory of the expulsion of the Soviet invader that probably prompted him to offer the USA a safe exit from Afghanistan, but he should remember the consequences of giving the Soviets a safe exit: the Taliban came to power, as the mujahideen factions, including Mr Hekmatyars, degenerated into the brawling which prevented Mr Hekmatyar from entering his capital as Prime Minister. It is that which adds interest and context to his remark that the Taliban were toppled because of Al-Qaedas wrong strategy. Mr Hekmatyar also denied that the Pakistani agencies were assisting the mujahideen of today, who were resisting the US occupation. This was of deep interest, because Mr Hekmatyar was rated the mujahideen leader most closely linked to Pakistan. The solution to the Afghan problem lies in Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan all joining hands to prepare a post-US scenario in Afghanistan, and bringing about stability in the region by excluding from it all foreign troops. Mr Hekmatyar, indeed no Afghan, can go it alone. Therefore, the regions other powers must also be involved. This should be the basis of Pakistani policy, not a slavish adherence to the US diktat.