Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, January 21st, 2019

Consequences of Releasing Hizb-e-Islami’s Prisoners

The government of Afghanistan has released 75 of Hizb-e-Islami’s (Hekmatyar branch) members who were sentenced to 20 years by court.
These individuals who are released in accordance to the reconciliation agreement set out between Hizb-e-Islami and the government, were sentenced by court to a maximum of 20 years based on their crimes of disruption of internal and external security. Release of these prisoners have been met with different reactions in the press and social media.
The public, political and military experts have expressed their concerns from many perspectives, pondering and considering which can prove beneficial in decision making in similar cases in future.
Many analysts are concerned that Hizb-e-Islami’s list contains names of individuals who were previously affiliated with either Taliban or Daesh (ISIS) and were captured from the battle fields while they were fighting the Afghan army.
Therefore, releasing these individuals is not release of Hizb-e-Islami’s prisoners but in fact it is release of individuals affiliated with Taliban and Daesh.
It is said that some of these prisoners who are released have introduced themselves as members of Taliban and now Hizb-e-Islami insists that these individuals belong to Hizb-e-Islami and must be released as per the agreement.
The reality of war in Afghanistan is such that there is no specific and fix division of territories under control of Taliban, Daesh or Hizb-e-Islami which makes it difficult to differentiate between members of these militias. For example, in some areas where militias were affiliated with Hizb-e-Islami, suddenly joined the Taliban and fought against the government under the Taliban flag. In some other areas the opposite might have taken place. Therefore, it is not unlikely that among those released or in the list given by Hizb-e-Islami, there might be individuals that are affiliated with the extremist Taliban or Daesh group.
Another issue that must be kept in mind is that these individuals except committing general crimes might have violated other people’s rights too and it is possible that some of them might have individual’s plaintiffs in that case their release would mean turning a blind eye to law and the rights of those who are affected.
People want to know if there is a clause in the agreement between Government and Hizb-e-Islami, that besides releasing prisons of Hizb-e-Islami also asks for a guarantee from the Hizb about the actions of their members after their release.
The Afghan Government must ensure that the radical groups do not use Hizb e Islami as a tool to increase their influence in the government and undermine the emerging democratic processes in the country.
Principally, just like Hizb-e-Islami insists on the affiliation of the prisoners with Hizb and on their release, they must also feel themselves responsible to their actions after release.
According to Hizb-e-Islami’s spokesmen around 2,000 imprisoned members of this party have been identified and listed which are to be released according to the peace agreement. Although government officials have said that cases of each prisoner will be scrutinized at different security and intelligence levels and finally they will be released on the order of the president. But, because of the unhealthy political processes and due to the connivances that have taken place in the past, release of criminal prisoners and prisoners affiliated with Taliban and Daesh (ISIS) under the name of Hizb-e-Islami members, doesn’t seem unlikely.
Therefore, this is the government’s duty to identify Hizb-e-Islami’s prisoners with discretion and differentiate the type of crime that they have committed, identify their ideological leanings, and behavior and release only that group of prisoners who:
First of all, their affiliated with Hizb-e-Islami is unquestionable. Secondly, they should not have personal plaintiffs. Thirdly, there should be an assurance that they would not get armed and fight against the government again. If in future, any of these individuals get involved in crime and cooperate in any way with terrorist groups, Afghan people will consider the government and Hizb-e-Islami responsible for consequences of their behaviors.