Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar puts three main conditions for reaching peace with the Government of Afghanistan

Hekmatyar’s last chance for peace
Written by Heart of Asia, Wednesday, 22 June 2016
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
founder of Hezb-i-Islami
The Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) Party has reportedly set new conditions for peace agreement with the Afghan government. Quoting an Afghan official involved in peace talks with the militant group, the Associated Press reported that the party’s leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, has announced three new conditions for striking a peace deal with the government. According to the official, the new conditions are abrogation of the Afghan-US Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), a timetable for the withdrawal of international troops, and the signing of the timetable by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in lieu of the National Unity Government (NUG). If confirmed, Hekmatyar’s new demands correspond to those of the Taliban, who have also long requested the departure of all foreign troops from Afghanistan as a precondition for peace parleys, while international troops use the insurgent activities as a justification for their presence in the country. This means both sides justify the war because of each other -- the activities of HIG and the Taliban give ground for the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan, who, as a response, continue to prolong their Afghan mission for that very reason. Hopes were high about the success of peace negotiations with HIG; however, the new demands can easily dash them. It was widely expected that the Afghan government would soon ink a peace pact with HIG. Although the group doesn’t have a discernable impact on the battlefields, its reconciliation with the government undoubtedly has some benefits. On the one hand, a militant group, howsoever strong it is, would defect to the government, but on the other hand it will encourage other rebel groups to trust the peace process, and draw a conclusion that they can reach their lawful goals in Afghanistan without pursuing violence. Most importantly, it will make the people believe in the government’s will and intentions. The ongoing peace process with HIG, who now has an imperceptible military presence, or pales militarily compared to the main anti-government militant group, the Taliban, is a great window for the group to embrace. Hekmatyar should understand that he can never accomplish his agenda in Afghanistan through his existing resources and fighters. Therefore, the only and the best option for him that can guarantee his and his party’s future is to reach a peace deal with the government. Given Hekmatyar’s repeated withdrawal from peace talks, and the status quo, it may be his last chance for reconciliation with the Afghan government.