Khost gathering voices support for HIA-govt peace talks
KHOST CITY (Pajhwok): Hundreds of religious scholars, tribal elders and civil society activists held a gathering in southeastern Khost province on Thursday and announced their support for the peace talks between the government and the Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan.
Those who spoke on the occasion said the return of HIA leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar would encourage other militant groups to arrive at peace talks with the government.
Afghanistan Mujahideen Council chief Maulvi Mohammad Zadran told the gathering that there were some elements within the unity government who wanted to sabotage the peace talks between the HIA and the government.
He also called on the Taliban to arrive at the table of intra-Afghan dialogue like the HIA and shun violence.
“In my view those who are against the intra-Afghan dialogue are actually benefitting from the conflict and have reached power through the conflict. But our demand is that national interests should be preferred over personal interests.”
Civil society activist and teacher at Khost Sheikh Zayed University Rabbani Wihdat said Hekmatyar had many supporters within and out of the government and his reconciliation with the government would be a positive step towards bringing peace to the country.
He said the return of Hekmatyar would pave the ground for peace talks between the government and the Taliban, but there were some hurdles which needed to be removed.
“All Afghans want peace. If conditions the Taliban demand are considered and hurdles being created by some local circles and foreign governments are removed, the Taliban will also join the peace process,” he believed.
Common residents of Khost province also welcomed the HIA-government peace talks and believed Hekmatyar’s return would help bring peace to the country.
A resident of Khost City, the provincial capital, Qadirullah Sahil, told Pajhwok Afghan News he was happy about a possible return of Hekmatyar to the mainstream politics because it would help end the war in Afghanistan.
“It is the desire of every Afghan to have peace in the country. The return of Hekmatyar is highly beneficial for the country. We are tired of the war and hope the blood of innocent people will no longer be shed.”
Government officials say the draft peace agreement signed between the High Peace Council and HIA delegates would be signed by President Ghani and Hekmatyar soon, but an exact date is not given.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.