Most Afghans back Hekmatyar’s return
KABUL (Pajhwok): A majority of Afghans interviewed backed a looming peace deal between the government and the Gulbuddin Hekmatyar-led Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA), believing it would bring stability to the country, but others held different views.
The High Peace Council and an HIA delegation on Wednesday signed a draft peace agreement concluding their two-month talks.
The draft agreement was finalised and made ready for signatures of President Ashraf Ghani and HIA leader Hekmatyar.
The finalised draft agreement was handed over to the HIA delegation during a ceremony in Kabul and the HIA delegates would pass the draft to their leader, Hekmatyar, for a review.
Common people held different views about the draft agreement between the government and the HIA.
Nelofar Aziz Zada, a resident of Kart-i-Naw locality of capital Kabul, said: “The return of a veteran and real jihadi leader Hekmatyar to Afghanistan and his alliance with the government would bring stability to the country.”
She called the development “ good news,” saying Hekmatyar was an Afghan who strived and did jihad for the country and should be allowed to play his political role.
Nelofar downplayed HIA’s role in killing of innocent people and the destruction of Kabul, compared to other parties.
About the government-HIA peace negotiations, she said if war-mongers and anti-peace elements were not allowed to interfere, the talks could end successfully.
Najiba, a resident of Qala-i-Zaman Khan locality, said her 35 years life, she had learned that war was not a solution to problems. She said the government should give equal share in every sphere to all Afghans to end the conflict and the resulting miseries.
“The government should treat Afghans equally and distribute resources among them on equal basis so no Afghan feels discrimination and they would subsequently return to a normal life.”
Fazal Rahim, a student at Al Falah private university in Nangarhar province, said he supported peace talks with every group.
He said if Hekmatyar decided to the join peace process, many fighters in his group would renounce violence and return to a normal life.
Abdullah Pohan, a resident of Jalalabad, the provincial capital, said: “We are very happy about the government’s decision to hold peace talks with HIA. The step would leave a positive impact on the ongoing situation of the country.”
He said Afghans were tired of the conflict and hoped the government would not allow individuals who wanted to sabotage the peace process.
Mohammad Zubair, a resident of Kandahar City, the capital of southern Kandahar province, said people would support every step for peace in the country. He said he was very happy to see progress in the talks with HIA.
According to Zubair, the success of talks with HIA would improve the government’s legitimacy and would help encourage other militant groups to join the peace bid.
Massoud Yarzada, a resident of western Herat City, said: “Talks with HIA is a good step and the process should not be made conditional. We want the Taliban to join the peace talks as well.”
Another resident of Herat City, Shekab Samim, said they wanted the Taliban to join the peace process as well, but the group should not present difficult conditions.
Mer Ahmad, a resident of Chahar Boluk district of northern Balkh province, said: “Forget about Hekmatyar, if a common man renounces violence, it is in the best interest of Afghanistan. Hekmatyar had a lot of supporters in the country.”
Mohammad Sharif Sharifi, a resident of Mazar-i-Sharif, said the success of peace talks with Hekmatyar would restore people’s trust in the HPC and the Afghan government would narrow its gap with the masses.
Sardar Razmal, a resident of Kunduz City, said Hekmatyar had special followers who were disappointed and developed distance from the government in the absence of their leader. He said he was sure Hekmatyar’s followers would renounce violence once their leader joined the peace process.
The success of peace talks with HIA would be a positive step towards promoting national interest of Afghanistan and the government’s empowerment.
Mohammad Shafique, a student at Sadeqi High School, said: “The return of Hekmatyar will help improve by 50 percent the country’s security situation.”
But, Mohammad Rafi, a student of economics faculty, believed the return of Hekmatyar could not improve the country’s security situation. He alleged HIA had committed a number of crimes against humanity.
Mohammad Amin Ibtehaj, a resident of Bamyan and a university student, said it was the need of the hour that HIA join the government. He believed Hekmatyar should accept the country’s Constitution like a common man and the government should give him concessions and financial support from the state’s treasury.
Hussain Fahimi, another resident of Bamyan province, doubted Hekmatyar’s intentions behind his delegation’s negotiations with the Afghan government.
He said it had been unofficially stated that Hikmatyar had presented some conditions thought which he wanted to create a state within state.
Obaidullah, a resident of Farah province, said: “Peace is the desire of every citizen and it is good news that the government has reached consensus on the peace deal with the HIA.”
He asked both the parties to show flexibility in their stance for the sake of peace because peace demanded huge sacrifice from both.
Mohammad Sadeq, a resident of Pushtrud district in Farah, expressing happiness over the peace negotiations with HIA, said Hikmatyar’s return would leave positively impact the country’s security situation and particularly Pushtrud’s security situation.
He warned some circles within the government were against a peace deal with HIA.
Shamsullah Sehrai, a resident of Helmand province and a tribal elder, said: “A peace deal with Hekmatyar would offer a change to the Taliban to return to a noral life, but if the deal with HIA is not struck, the situation would worsen then it is.”
According to Sehrai, Hekmatyar agreed to hold peace talks because the HIA wanted to pull the country out of the crises.
He said the government should without any delay allow the HIA to become part of the government and play its role in development of the war-torn country.
Haji Naveed Watanwal, civil societies coordination head in Helmand, welcomed talks with Hekmatyar and said there would be a drastic decline in incidents of insecurity after Hekmatyar renouncing violence.
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