HAMID KHAN WAZIR
After striking a successful deal with Afghan government, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, head of Hezb-i-Islami, is likely to appear in Kabul within few days.
Warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is back to centre stage in Afghanistan after the Afghan government signed a peace agreement with Hekmatyar on September 22, 2016, paving the way for his political comeback after years in hiding.
A senior member of the Afghan delegation visited Pakistan told Pakistan Today on condition of anonymity that Hekmatyar, who has been in hiding for many years, could resurface in Kabul within next few days.
He said that all the issues causing delay in ending his hiding have eventually been settled, so the chief of Hezb-i-Islami would formally appear in the Afghanistan capital, who will play a pivotal role in the future political arrangement of the country.
He said that Pakhtun being the largest population of Afghanistan facing acute leadership problems, so after denouncing the fight, Hetmatyar could play an important role to fill the vacuum.
The deal paved the way for him to return from hiding to Kabul, the delegate said adding that the huge rallies have been taken out in favour of the warlord in various metropolitans of the war-torn country that worried the US, because it felt that he is still enjoying great popularity and could cause problems in the future.
However, he said that since Afghan President Ashraf Ghani formalised a peace treaty with Hezb-i-Islami, which is the first peace treaty since the war with the Taliban began in 2001, Hetmatyar would definitely resurface.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah are not enjoying cordial relations, as the later repeatedly warned of withdrawing their support from the government due to the failure of president Ghani to meet their demands.
They both claimed victory in the 2014 elections, but in a deal negotiated by then American Secretary of State John Kerry, they agreed to share power in a national unity government, with Abdullah reluctantly accepting the secondary role. The agreement was set to last two years on the assumption that certain promised reforms, including holding parliamentary elections and changing the constitution to create the post of prime minister for Abduallh, would be introduced.
According to 25-point peace agreement, the government will offer Hekmatyar legal immunity “in all past political and military proceedings” as well as release Hezb-i-Islami prisoners in exchange for a permanent ceasefire.
Hekmatyar is designated a “global terrorist” by the US and is blacklisted by the UN. The Afghan government will work towards lifting those restrictions.
The accord with Hezb-i-Islami has been welcomed by the international community as a possible template for any future peace deal with the Taliban, who have been fighting to overthrow the Kabul government for 15 years.
Praising the deal, Pakistan’s foreign ministry in its statement said, “Pakistan has consistently emphasised that there is no military solution of the conflict in Afghanistan. Politically negotiated settlement through an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process is the most viable option for bringing lasting peace and stability to Afghanistan.”
Hekmatyar was a prominent anti-Soviet commander in the 1980s who stood accused of killing thousands of people when his fighters fired on civilian areas of the capital city during the 1992-1996 civil war.