|Hekmatyar’s presence brought more uncertainty and ethnic tensions than peace in Afghanistan|
Hekmatyar signed a peace deal with president Ashraf Ghani in September 2016 and returned back from his hideout in the mountain to Kabul on May 4th, 2017.
After one year, all evidences and statistical figures show that the peace accord with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has not brought any positive change to the security of Afghanistan. Instead, his presence brought more “uncertainty” and “ethnic tensions” than peace in the country.
The peace deal became possible when Hekmatyar dropped his pre-condition on full withdrawal of the U.S.-NATO forces from Afghanistan and entered into a ceasefire with the Afghan government. In return, the Afghan government gave him amnesty from his past crimes, removed his name from the United Nations Security Council sanction list, and released Hezb-e Islami’s prisoners by hundreds.
I have come to cooperate with the government to help end the war and restore peace”, said Hekmatyar in his welcoming ceremony in Presidential Palace in Kabul.
However, did Hekmatyar ever tried to work for peace in the last one year? Or he just signed the deal to benefit the enormous concession? Perhaps the answer is the later. How?
First: By signing the peace accord, Hekmatyar was given amnesty from all his past crimes, including his war crimes. The Taliban-affiliated Hezb-e Islami (Islamic Party) led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was involved in many mass-killing and terrorist activities in the 1990s and post-2001 Afghanistan war. Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e Islami is responsible for hundreds of terrorist attacks, including the 2008 attack on military parade that nearly killed Hamid Karzai, the 2008 ambush on French petrol in Kabul that killed ten French soldiers, the 2011 bomb blast inside a shopping centre in Kabul that killed eight people and the 2015 ambush on medical personnel in Badakhshan which as result 10 aid workers were killed.
Second: Before signing the peace deal, many believe that Hekmatyar had already lost obedience from the party. Before entering into a deal, many party members had already become part of the state with shares of political power and resources. The rest had long ago moved from the “ideological slogans of the Jihad era” or had been killed by the US-Afghan forces. The peace deal, however, provided him the opportunity to come out of his hideout in the mountain, re-appear in Afghanistan power arena, and become the “emir” of his thousands of Pashtun followers.
Third: Hekmatyar was provided enormous concession and large welcoming reception on his arrival to Kabul. The peace deal given Hekmatyar the right to bring hundreds of his own armed guards, released prisoners from his once-banned party by hundreds, integration of his 3,500 fighters in security agencies, and offer of land to thousands of his followers exiled in Pakistan.
Fourth: Hekmatyar became too old to continue the fight and remain hiding in his isolated cave from the Afghan forces and U.S.-NATO radar. With the increasing numbers of drone attacks and Afghan forces search capabilities, the chances of him being targeted like Al-Qaida and Taliban leaders became very high in recent years. Thus, Hekmatyar was left with no choice but to enter into a peace deal with the Afghan government to save his life.
Overall, there are strong believe that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s presence in Kabul brought more uncertainty and ethnic tension than peace in the country. While his anti-Massoud remark increased tensions among Tajik’s Jamiat Party, Hekmatyar was also defamed by many people for his remark on “ethnic war” in Afghanistan and calling suicide attacks an “Istishhadi” raids (martyrdom). Perhaps, Yunus Khalis’ comparing of Hekmatyar to a burning trouser is yet so true. Keeping Hekmatyar in is as painful as having burning pants and throwing him out is as awkward as walking naked.