Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s reemergence in the capital of Afghanistan from a hibernation period of almost two decades has raised many questions for the ethnopolitical future of the country.
Having a reputation as the notorious leader of the second largest insurgent group in the country Hezb-e-Islami, and being accused of thousands of killings of civilians in Kabul during his reign as the former prime minister in the 1990s, he became famous as the “butcher warlord” amongst the citizens of the capital. People believed him to be the cause of the civil war and massive destruction of the capital.
Not only in the eyes of the people of his own country, Hekmatyar has also been called a “terrorist” by the US and United Nations but has later been pardoned at the request of the Afghan government. Hekmatyar returned to his country after his political party Hezb-e-Islami had an agreement with the Afghan government to lay aside the weapons used against their people and strive for peace within the country.
In spite of having such a criminal and brutal record, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had been trying since 2016 to get Hekmatyar back in the country to regain the peace and harmony by talking with the Taliban to lay down their arms. But his return got hindered because of the imprisonment of the members of his militia. Now that the affiliates of the Hezb-e-Islamic got released, Hekmatyar has reappeared on April 28 of this year. After attaining the clean chit from US and United Nations regarding all the previous sanctions of terrorism and assassinations in Kabul, and regaining unity with the Afghan government, Hekmatyar reached Laghman province with a large security protocol comprising of four helicopters.
Hekmatyar was welcomed by the President Ashraf Ghani in his palace on the red carpet with all his followers chanting the slogans in praise off Hekmatyar and his political insurgent group Hezb-e-Islami. Such huge welcome shows the President’s confidence in Hekmatyar’s peace deal. Ashraf Ghani is foreseeing Hekmatyar as the most swaying figure in restoring the ethnic peace of the country, as he had been approaching him since 2016.
On the other hand, after reaching back to Kabul, Hekmatyar on Saturday reaffirmed his intentions of sustaining peace in the country by holding talks with the Taliban to convince them to cease the “holy war,” causing massive destruction to their own country. He promised he and his party would persuade the Taliban to lay down their weapons, which have not brought any good to the people.
Furthermore, Hekmatyar demanded a centralized government, saying that Afghanistan does not need any imposed government to preserve peace. On the day of his bizarre comeback, he has also reinstated an insurgent political group by gathering all his factions and followers to reconcile and negotiate with the Taliban.
Though both his words and actions are in perfect align with an ethnopolitical peace revolution in the city, there are a few factors causing hype and making his political activities less efficient and distrustful at the same time.
First of all, establishing trust amongst the common public would prove to be tough for a man who was previously known as the butcher of Kabul, although he has quite successfully removed the sanctions of terrorism and killings of his people.
But common man will not forgive him for the chaos he produced in his reign.
Despite his followers gave him a warm welcome by erecting banners and boards for his grand return, people in Kabul are bearing hatred in their hearts for him, and all his recent political activities are considered to be more vicious for the peace than advantageous.
Secondly, he has been condemned by the Taliban for his peace deal with the Afghan government and also blamed as an Islam rebel. In the past years, when Hekmatyar was leading his group as the second most active insurgent group in the country, both groups never physically fought against each other, but for gaining the authority in rural areas of the country.
These are reappearing conditions after his outcast from the country has created both ethnic and political infirmity in the capital of the country. Analysts are keenly analyzing the scenario, not only observing his previous record as a criminal but also the President’s enormous expectations of a person with a past as prime minister and a leader of a great political group.