The President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani signed a peace deal with one of the country’s most notorious warlords Gulbuddin Hekmatyar yesterday. This is considered the final step before the implementation of an immediate cease-fire.
Ghani, surrounded by hundreds of Afghan officials and former warlords, signed an agreement paving the way for the Hezb-i-Islami, a faction led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, to take an active role in political life.
Despite his reverberating speeches about unity, Hekmatyar did not attend the signing but rather signed the agreement on Thursday via a video link into Kabul’s presidential palace. The ceremony was broadcast live on television and was attended by high ranking representatives of the government and members of the Hezb-i-Islami group that Hekmatyar belongs to. The rebel group, which is the largest in the country, opposes international military intervention in Afghanistan and has fought international forces and the Afghan government since the US-led invasion in 2001.
One of the Hezb-i-Islami’s conditions for signing the peace agreement was that all foreign forces leave the country. The agreement stipulates that foreign forces must leave the country according to a “reasonable schedule”. According to the agreement, which the German Press Agency (DPA) obtained a copy of, the Hezb-i-Islami’s agreement with the Afghan government provides immunity from prosecution for all members of the group, and the Afghan government must release imprisoned members of the Hezb-i-Islami within two months.