By Shadi Khan Saif
A landmark peace agreement between the Afghan government and rebel Hezb-e-Islami party was officially endorsed by the party's leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at a high-profile ceremony in Kabul on Thursday.
Hekmatyar has been in self-imposed exile for decades but spoke at the ceremony, through a video-link from an undisclosed location, about the value of peace for Afghanistan, stressing the Taliban should also join the peace process.
“War is not the solution [to the crisis], we can reach our political goals through peaceful means,” said 69-year-old Hekmatyar, who had been a leader of the CIA-backed Mujahideen armed groups that fought Soviet forces in the 1980s.
Ghani said the way forward for the country was to tolerate each other and acknowledge the rights of others.
“There are two routes to choose for the Taliban, they can demonstrate that they want to stand by the people and join the peace process like the Hezb-e-Islami or stay against the people and continue with the bloodshed and war."
According to the peace deal, the Hezb-e-Islami has vowed to shun violence, cut ties to terrorist organisations and respect the Constitution of Afghanistan. In return, the Afghan government has promised to provide its leaders with security, freedom for political activities and the lifting of sanctions against them.
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