Saturday, May 14, 2016
They had to do something themselves
After 13 years of failure, the Afghan government was well aware of something that has been ignored in the Pentagon, the US military won't win them anything. So the Afghan government began a process that is showing its first fruit.
Afghanistan is expected to finalize a peace deal with a notorious militant group in the coming days, in what could be a template for ending the 15-year war with the Taliban, a government official and a representative of the militant group said Saturday.Start with the easy ones and hopefully the good results will continue and soon enough, the Afghan government will kick us out of the country.
The deal is partly symbolic as the group in question, Hezb-i-Islami, has been largely inactive for years, but it marks a breakthrough for President Ashraf Ghani, who has made little progress in reviving peace talks with the far more powerful Taliban.
Under the 25-point agreement, a draft of which was seen by The Associated Press, Hezb-i-Islami would end its war against the government, commit to respecting the Afghan constitution and cease all contact with other insurgents. In return its members would receive amnesty and its prisoners would be released.
Ataul Rahman Saleem, deputy head of the High Peace Council — a government body charged with negotiating an end to the war — told the AP that the deal could be completed on Sunday, after two years of negotiations. A senior representative of Hezb-i-Islami, Amin Karim, also said he expected Ghani to approve the final version of the agreement on Sunday.
Hezb-i-Islami is led by warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whose forces killed thousands of people in Kabul during the 1992-1996 civil war. He is believed to be in Pakistan, though Karim has said he is in an unspecified location in Afghanistan. He could soon return to Kabul to sign a formal peace deal and take up residence.
Hekmatyar, in his late 60s, is designated a “global terrorist” by the United States and blacklisted by the United Nations. The agreement obliges the Afghan government to work toward lifting those restrictions.
The group has had only a minor role in the conflict in recent years. Its last major attack killed 15 people, including six American soldiers, in Kabul in 2013.
Ghani’s spokesman, Zafar Hashemi, would not comment directly on the Hezb-i-Islami deal, telling reporters Saturday that “the doors are open for peace talks” to all groups. He added, however, that “there are developments” and “optimism.”
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