Iran lauds Afghanistan’s deal with Hezb-i-Islami
Tehran, Iran, Sept. 23
By Mehdi Sepahvand – Trend:
The Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes the deal that was recently signed between the government of Afghanistan and Hezb-i-Islami, Iranian Ambassador to Afghanistan Mohammad Reza Bahrami said.
The Hezb-i-Islami was founded by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in late 1970s. During the Soviet War in Afghanistan, Hekmatyar and his party operated near the Pakistani border against the Soviets.
The party is highly centralized under Hekmatyar’s command and until 1994 had close relations with Pakistan.
“Any talk that the government holds with opposition groups and leads to some political agreement is a step forward and we hope these steps to peace increase in number,” he said.
Afghanistan on Sept. 22 signed a peace agreement with Hezb-i-Islami paving the way for the armed group's commander, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, to make a political comeback despite allegations of war crimes during the 1990s.
Government officials praised the agreement in the capital Kabul as a step towards peace, while critics said it opened the door to one of the most infamous figures in Afghanistan's civil war to play a role in the country's already divisive politics.
The deal with the largely dormant Hezb-i-Islami marks a symbolic victory for President Ashraf Ghani who has struggled to revive peace talks with the more powerful Taliban fighters, while, at the same time, attempting to reintegrate other controversial military figures into society by granting immunity for past crimes.
The agreement will come into force when it is formally signed by Ghani and Hekmatyar, for which yet no date has been set.