Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, August 18th, 2017

Removing HIA from UN blacklist after Kabul-peace Deal

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Removing HIA from UN blacklist after Kabul-peace Deal

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has removed sanctions against Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of a militant group, some five months after the government inked a landmark peace agreement. In the meantime, the Afghan government welcomed the decision, saying that it was a historic day for the peace process in country. In a joint press conference held in Kabul on Saturday afternoon, representatives of both sides praised the achievement. Mohammad Akram Khpalwak, a political advisor to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, described the move as "a major step toward peace and stability in Afghanistan." He also called all other militant groups to join the peace process. Hezb-i-Islami's chief peace negotiator, Amin Karim, for his part, said both sides were currently working on fulfilling all commitments stated in the peace agreement and that both sides were satisfied with the progress up to the date.

Thus it is informed of government preparations to welcome HIA leader in Kabul and work is going over the fate of HIA prisoners by the Attorney General Office. Pointing out to the success of peace deal between government and HIA, the NUG frequently emphasized to all armed groups, including Taliban insurgent to shun violence and join peace and reconciliation process. Mohammad Karim Amin, Head of HIA Delegation said, “Removal of HIA leader’s name from UN-black list is a positive step toward peace in Afghanistan.” He said that based on peace agreement, removal of HIA leaders from UN-black list was a need. He ensured people that HIA would exert utmost efforts to maintain peace all over the country. “Removal of HIA leader is a clear sign of UN support for Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process,” he noted.

The peace agreement was finalized after nearly two years of formal and non-formal negotiations. Eventually, In September of last year, Hekmatyar signed a peace agreement with Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, which was brokered by Afghan High Peace Council after two years of negotiations, via a video conference broadcast by the state-run TV. As part of peace deal, the Afghan government requested the UN Security Council to remove HIA from black list. Though, he lived in unknown place for a long time but expected to visit Kabul soon; the government will have to provide security for him and his followers and release imprisoned members of the group under the peace deal.

The global body's decision came after Afghan government requested that the warlord’s name needs to be removed from the blacklist. It was the first agreement signed between government and an  insurgent group which potentially paving the way for him to openly return to the country.  Under the deal, the Afghan government promised to offer an official pardon to the associates of the militant group. But the group would be barred from joining the government although it would be recognized as a political party involved in major political decisions. However, several foreign governments praised the accord at that time seeing it as a step forward to wider peace in the country. The Afghan government and the international partners hope the deal may serve to encourage a similar agreement with the Taliban which has been gaining ground since the withdrawal of most international forces by the end of 2014.

On the other hand, it raised the concerns that the agreement would cultivate the culture of impunity and likewise HIA’s ideologies will restrict the role of women in political and social arenas to a large extent and marginalize them from the government. Many emphasized, if the peace deal is signed at the cost of people’s rights, legal values and freedom, this will not be acceptable for those who sacrificed to achieving current state. It is the government to be vigilant enough so that the negotiation does not be counterproductive or create a gap between state and nation since it seems to put the government on a collision course with the public.

The public concerns back to 1990s, as he played a major role during the bloody civil war; He became known as the infamous warlord of Kabul for his faction's indiscriminate firing of rockets into the capital. Being responsible for many deaths, human rights abuses and destruction led many Afghans to welcome the takeover of the Taliban.  He also fought against the troops of former Soviet Union in the 1980s. In 2003, Hekmatyar was designated by the United States as a "global terrorist" and since then his whereabouts are unknown. However, after the peace deal, the Afghan government demanded the UN Security Council to remove name of Hekmatyar from its sanctions list. Removing him from the list of designated terrorists means he would no longer have his assets frozen by the UN, or be subjected to a travel ban or an arms embargo.

Overall, the agreement grants amnesty for Hekmatyar in exchange for support of the Afghan Constitution and a promise to disband the military wing of the organization. As playing a small role in the current insurgent conflict in Afghanistan and lost its public support, it is the best opportunity for HIA to compensate the past as well as open a new footpath among people by releasing hundreds of prisoners.  Alternatively, as past five months showed, it is not likely to bring significant changes in the fortunes of Afghanistan. The HIA chief was the least of the several factors threatening social and economical development in Afghanistan. The main factors such as Taliban, Daesh, Haqqani group and etc remained determined to blackmailing the country.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@ gmail.com

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