Afghanistan signs peace deal with second largest insurgent group

Kabul: The Afghan government and the country’s second largest insurgent group Hezb-e-Islami on Thursday signed a peace agreement in Kabul — four months after the group announced its decision to do so.

The agreement was signed by Mohammad Amin Karim, head of the Hezb delegation, and Pir Sayed Ahmad Gilani, chief of the government-backed peace body the High Peace Council, at a ceremony attended by ranking officials and Hezb supporters, Xinhua news agency reported.

The deal was “the first step towards achieving durable peace and security across the country”, Amin Karim said after signing the agreement.

Expressing his support to intra-Afghan dialogue, Amin Karim also called on other armed groups fighting against the Afghan government to join the peace process and solve their problems through negotiation and peaceful means.

However, he noted that the Hezb would continue its struggle until the expulsion of all foreign forces from Afghanistan.

Speaking on the occasion, Afghan Presidential Advisor on National Security Mohammad Hanif Atmar called for the early implementation of the peace agreement.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has also welcomed the draft peace agreement, said a statement of the world body’s office.

“UNAMA supports the efforts by Afghanistan’s National Unity Government to engage all those interested in establishing an equitable peace. This agreement demonstrates the preparedness of Afghanistan’s government to seek peace with armed anti-government elements,” the statement said.

“The UN welcomes agreements that will contribute to a lessening of violence in Afghanistan and allow Afghans to live in peace. After decades of war in Afghanistan, we welcome steps towards reconciliation, inclusive peace and a lasting end to the conflict.”

This is the first peace agreement inked by Afghan government with an armed opposition group since the overthrow of the Taliban regime in late 2001.

The agreement would come into effect after President Ashraf Ghani and Hezb leader Gulbudin Hekmatyar sign the agreement.