Activists criticize Afghan peace deal with warlord

Sep 22, 2016, 5:57 AM EDT
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani
(Source: DFID - UK Department for International Development/flickr)

Human Rights Watch and other activists have slammed Afghanistan for its peace deal with a notorious warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who is accused of grave human rights abuses in the country. Under the accord signed on Thursday, the government has agreed to pardon Hekmatyar over his past offences including terrorist attacks and alleged war crimes. Afghanistan will also release jailed members of Hekmatyar’s militant group, Hezb-i-Islami, in addition to bearing security costs at two or three locations where the group’s leadership settles.

Human Rights Watch described the deal as “an affront to victims of grave abuses,” adding that the move will promote a culture of impunity in Afghanistan, writes The Guardian. The deal sets the stage for Hekmatyar to make a comeback to public and possibly political arena in the country.

Experts and organizations have divided opinion over the development, reports Reuters. Despite protests against the deal, U.S. State Department welcomed the announcement, calling it a major step towards ending violence in Afghanistan.

Timor Sharan, a Kabul-based analyst for the International Crisis Group, opined that Hekmatyar’s arrival may escalate tensions among different ethnic factions and strongmen in an already fragile state.