Afghanistan to sign peace deal with warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar

Afghanistan to sign peace deal with warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar

KABUL (APP): Afghanistan was set Thursday to sign a draft peace agreement with notorious warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, paving the way for his political return despite a history of war crimes and after years in hiding.

Hekmatyar, who heads the now largely dormant Hezb-i-Islami militant group, is the latest in in a series of controversial figures that Kabul has sought to reintegrate in the post-Taliban era..

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The deal with Afghanistan's second-biggest militant group marks a symbolic victory for President Ashraf Ghani, who has struggled to revive peace talks with the more powerful Taliban.

The government said an "initial draft agreement" would be signed on Thursday by Hekmatyar's delegation and Afghanistan's High Peace Council (HPC), responsible for reconciliation efforts with militants.

"Fortunately, after two years of negotiations between the Afghanistan's High Peace Council and the Hizb-e-Islami, the peace negotiations have been successfully completed, and a (draft) agreement between both sides has been finalised," the HPC said in a statement.

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"This peace agreement will be implemented after it is formally signed by President Ashraf Ghani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar," it added, without specifying a date.

Hekmatyar was a prominent anti-Soviet commander in the 1980s and stands accused of killing thousands of people in Kabul during the 1992-1996 civil war.