Govt, Hizb-e-Islami Peace Deal Draws Mixed Reaction

Following two years of intense negotiations, the Afghan government and one of the country’s largest militant groups Hizb-e-Islami finally clinched a ground-breaking peace deal on Thursday, a move which has drawn widespread reaction from the Afghan political elite and the international community.

In response to the deal, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a statement on Thursday that it was encouraged by the signing of the peace agreement.

“UNAMA supports the efforts by Afghanistan’s National Unity Government to engage all those interested in establishing an equitable peace. This agreement demonstrates the preparedness of Afghanistan’s government to seek peace with armed anti-government elements. A credible peace process must remain owned and driven by Afghans,” UNAMA said in the statement.

The UNAMA mission further noted that it welcomed agreements that contribute to curbing the scale of violence in Afghanistan and allow Afghans to live in peace.

“The UN welcomes agreements that will contribute to a lessening of violence in Afghanistan and allow Afghans to live in peace. After decades of war in Afghanistan we welcome steps towards reconciliation, inclusive peace and a lasting end to the conflict,” the statement concluded.

Alongside the UN, the European Union (EU) also welcomed the peace agreement, calling the move a sign of strong hope for suffering Afghans.

In a press release issued from the office of the spokesperson of the EU in Brussels, it has been stated that the peace agreement between the two sides demonstrates that political processes can succeed where conflict cannot.

“The leadership of the parties involved, and their negotiation teams, have demonstrated great political courage to engage in a truly Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process, and have stayed the course even during difficult times,” part of the press release read.

The EU also called on the Afghan government and Hizb-e-Islami to show courage in implementing the deal as it is not an easy task .

“Once the agreement has been signed, we expect its early implementation. This will be no easy task. The route to reconciliation is lined with many challenges but each side has already displayed the determination and perseverance necessary for success,” the press release added.

Referring to the upcoming Brussels conference on Afghanistan, the EU noted that one of the key elements of the summit is that the international community will renew its cooperation and partnership with Afghanistan that will help create the political, social and economic environment enabling Afghanistan to consolidate peace, security and prosperity in the country.

The U.S embassy in Kabul also issued a statement and said the peace agreement was a step towards bringing the conflict to an end in Afghanistan.

“The United States continues to support an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process that results in armed groups ceasing violence, breaking ties with international terrorist groups, and accepting the Constitution, including protection for women and minorities,” the embassy said in a statement.

“We welcome today’s accord negotiated and concluded by the Government of Afghanistan and Hizb-e Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) as a step in bringing the conflict in Afghanistan to a peaceful end,” the statement read.

Afghans Split on Hekmatyar Deal

The peace agreement signed today between the government and Hizb-e-Islami has sparked widespread reaction among Afghans with some supporting the deal while others have expressed their doubts over the deal.

At a gathering in Kabul, members of the Afghan Justice Party on Thursday voiced support for the peace deal and urged the need for more steps to be taken for inter-Afghan dialogue.

They called for countries that sponsor terrorism and extremism to be isolated on the international platform.

“We requested our neighbors to help us in restoring peace, but they did not responded to our calls for peace; today we see that those who are backing terrorism are going toward international isolation,” said former minister of borders and tribal affairs Gulab Mangal.

They called on the international community to help Afghanistan expedite the peace negotiation process with the Taliban, one of country’s most powerful militant groups.

“War has been imposed on us, the world is fully aware about the fact, but we want peace,” said one MP Nazir Ahmad Ahmadzai.

“The only achievement of the present government is the peace program, we want more efforts to be done in this respect including the peace process with the Taliban and other militant groups,” said Abdul Rashid Ayoubi, chairman of the Afghanistan Justice Party.

“I attended two rounds of peace talks in Qatar, the Taliban were also looking tired of the war at the meeting, I hope that God helps us to restore nationwide peace in our country,” said presidential advisor Malalai Shinwari.

In the meantime Hizb-e-Hambastagi party has said that the part was strongly opposed to the inclusion of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in the peace process.

In response to the peace deal, party members staged a protest gathering in Kabul where members of the party accused Hekmatyar of being involved in the killing of thousands of innocent civilians.

They called on the Afghan people not to remain silent over the alleged war crimes committed by Hizb-e-Islami.

“Hizb-e-Islami is against the development and development of women in Afghanistan, intellectuals, Hizb-e-Islami has been involved in the killing of intellectuals more so than any other oppressive group, ” said Selai Ghafar spokeswoman to Habastagi party.

Loyalists to the concerned party said that by offering major concessions to Hekmatyar, the NUG wants to hide the crimes of Hekmatyar from the people of Afghanistan.

Mursal, a member of Hambastagi party, said: “It is expected that Gulbuddin joins the government, he would be offered huge amounts of money and townships, he has been promised a lot of other glossy privileges, we are against the return of Gulbuddin.”

“He was hitting Kabul with rockets from different areas including Chahar Qala and Qala Musa, He was a slave to Pakistan and was hitting the capital with rockets, but now he talks about peace,” another Hambastagi party member Mohammad Zahir said.

Former president Hamid Karzai also welcomed the peace deal between the government and Hizb-e-Islami, calling on the militant Taliban to enter similar talks with the government.

Source Tolonews

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