Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, July 15th, 2018

Peace Talk with Hizb-e-Islami

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Peace Talk with Hizb-e-Islami

The negotiation of peace with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar-led Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) has imbued the air with a sense of fear and mistrust. HIA bears a dark and bloody background in the history of Afghanistan, mainly during the civil war, and a large number of civilians are believed to have been sacrificed. The news about the return of HIA’s fugitive leader to Afghanistan worries the nation and some political figures.
Hekmatyar is a man with radical context and practiced upon harsh ideology in Afghanistan, mainly regarding the rights of women and ethnic minority groups. He fought bloody war in the country. Currently, the vulnerable parts of society are of the view that their life and liberty will be at stake with the return of HIA’s chief and his men. Women will be marginalized from social and political activities and their role will be restricted within four walls again despite the achievements they made in post-Taliban time. In other words, women fear that corrosive acid will be sprayed in their faces as members of Taliban did in Kandahar province. Women took the brunt of violence during the Taliban’s radical regime and they are still the easy target for radical parties. Whenever social and political conditions are tended to harsh ideology, Afghan girls and women will be the first to give sacrifice. It will be highly dangerous if radicalism infiltrates government’s machinery and changes into a potent force.
It should be noted that radicalism has no room in a democratic system. The burgeoning democracy seems to be susceptible to political changes. The ethnic minority groups, who suffered on the grounds of their race and color in Afghanistan’s history, deem their rights exposed to transgression with the return of HIA party. So, nurturing ethnic and sexual chauvinism, harsh ideology and religious intolerance will threaten democracy in a society and curtail the freedom of the public.
The Hizb-e-Islami faction fought alongside the Taliban against NATO coalition forces and Afghan soldiers. This party has also inflicted heavy casualties upon the nation. Hezb-e-Islami committed numerous human rights violations during the Afghan civil war. It’s said that members of the HIA group has probably killed more Afghans than Soviets. Hekmatyar was designated a terrorist by the US in February 2003 for his past support to Al-Qaeda. On February 19, 2003 it was announced that the US Government had information indicating that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has participated in and supported terrorist acts committed by al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Because of his terrorist activity, the United States designated Hekmatyar as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under the authority of Executive Order 13224.
Despite the mentioned facts, in 2008, Hekmatyar apparently opened the door to talks with the Government of Afghanistan, in part through a spring 2008 letter addressed to President Karzai. Some suggest that there may be some potential for drawing Hekmatyar away from the insurgent fight and into a constructive role. Others caution that his reputation for Islamic extremism and human rights abuses call into question the likelihood and advisability of any reconciliation with him.
Kabul reached out to Hekmatyar as early as 2008 in the hope of working out a peace deal. Meanwhile, Hekmatyar had a complicated relationship with the Taliban, voicing support for Mullah Mohammad Omar while coordinating attacks with the Taliban spiritual leader against foreign and Afghan forces. But at the same time, Hezb-e Islami clashed with the Taliban, particularly in eastern Afghanistan, over territory. In July 2015, Hekmatyar called on his followers to support the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group in its fight against the Taliban.
HIA, however, strongly opposed the proposed Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States. This party claimed responsibility for many suicide attacks carried out against US and Afghan forces in the country.
By March 2016, Afghanistan managed to bring HIA’s leader to the negotiating table after he dropped demands that all foreign forces leave the country. Kabul must consider whether Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s offer to end a 15-year insurgency campaign in exchange for involvement in the government is a workable proposition. Any deal would come with a price, however. At this stage, Hezb-e Islami is seeking to become a government partner by seeking positions in civil and security institutions.
Analysts are of the view that Hekmatyar’s return to Afghanistan may create a social and political mayhem in the country. Making peace with him will not mitigate the current insurgency. Having a position in government’s machinery, after murdering US and Afghan forces and noncombatants, rather than standing trial will not be acceptable for the public and is against the Afghanistan’s Constitution.
Afghanistan should respect the Constitution and the rights and freedom of the public, including men and women. Signing peace deal at the cost of democracy and citizens’ fundamental rights will do more harm than good. Since Hekmatyar has been hosted across the border for years, it should be ensured that he will not work in favor of any other countries or parties. He will have to respect the Constitution, which include all the fundamental rights of citizens, and give up radical ideology. In brief, peace cannot be tailored in the narrow frame of radicalism and ethnic chauvinism rather it is supposed to be made on the basis of Constitution and with respect with people’s rights and freedom.

Hujjattullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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