Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

War and Peace

Almost Signed? The peace agreement with Hezb-e Islami

Martine van Bijlert Thomas Ruttig 18 min

On 18 May 2016, two delegations representing respectively the insurgent faction of Hezb-e Islami-ye Afghanistan and the Afghan High Peace Council (HPC) initialled a draft peace agreement that should end Hezb’s armed struggle. The status of the document – and whether it may still be subject to changes – is not fully clear, but there is optimism in official circles, particularly within the HPC, that the actual agreement may be signed soon. The government and some of its allies see the draft agreement as a possible blueprint for a peace accord with the Taleban—who so far have shown little interest. As AAN co-directors Thomas Ruttig and Martine van Bijlert write, there are however still some stumbling blocks and open questions.

HIG leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Photo: website of Shahadat daily.Hezb-e Islami amir Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was taken off the UN sanctions list on 3 February 2017. Photo: website of Shahadat daily.

On 18 May 2016, after several earlier meetings that were widely reported on in the national and international press, the High Peace Council and a delegation of the armed wing of Hezb-e Islami led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar finalised a draft peace agreement. The document was initialled (not signed) in the house of HPC chairman Pir Sayed Ahmad Gailani who was appointed in February 2016 (his house currently serves as a temporary HPC office). A photo of the two groups after the meeting was immediately circulated on social media and the draft agreement was presented as an important achievement for the now-reformed HPC that is still struggling to prove its usefulness. (1)

The HIG and HPC delegations after initialling the agreement. Photo c/o Mutmaeen/ Twitter.

The HIG and HPC delegations after initialling the agreement. Photo c/o Mutmaeen/ Twitter.


Hezb-e Islami has been led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar ever since it was founded in the second half of the 1970s (2). During the Soviet occupation in the 1980s, it received the lion’s share of funding handed out to the Afghan mujahedin by western and Arab governments, through Pakistan’s ISI, who believed Hezb to be the most effective anti-Soviet force. The group lost western support when Hekmatyar spoke out in favour of Saddam Hussain during the first Gulf War, and most of Pakistan’s support when Islamabad started favouring the Taleban movement in the mid-1990s. After the collapse of the Taleban regime, Hezb split, or divided itself, into the insurgent faction that is now often called Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) and a wing that was registered as a legal political party inside Afghanistan. This relegated HIG to a far distant second place in the Afghan insurgency. HIG currently controls fighters in many provinces across the country, with strongholds in Wardak, Baghlan, Kapisa, Farah and Kunar, but it has not consolidated any significant territorial control or parallel administration-like structures, like the Taleban. Its military impact is also significantly smaller.

Politically, Hezb’s legal wing was more successful. In order to get registered, it distanced itself from the insurgency and Hekmatyar, as demanded by the US government but it did not burn all bridges. Its continuing relationship with the HIG wing became more and more open over the years. As we wrote in 2013, representatives of both the insurgent HIG and of the registered Hezb faction in Kabul

… have implied in interviews with AAN that there is only one Hezb-e Islami and [that there are] no splinter groups. This, of course, conflicts with the pre-condition of the registration of Hezb’s Kabul wing and also contradicts earlier statements of the Kabul-based faction that Hekmatyar could not return to work under the party’s name.

With positions in the government, both on the central and the subnational levels, the largest number of seats in parliament and several provincial governor positions, both under the Karzai and the Ghani/Abdullah government, Hezb may well politically be the best represented mujahedin party inside Afghanistan (more detail in this AAN analysis) – approximately on par with its old foe Jamiat-e Islami, from which it split in the 1970s. In 2014, a Hekmatyar deputy, Qutbuddin Helal, ran for president as an ‘independent,’ gathering 2.75 per cent of the vote in the first round. It never became fully clear whether he did this on his own or with Hekmatyar’s backing, nor was he required to distance himself from the insurgency before being accepted as a candidate. What added to the confusion was the fact that HIG’s official position on the elections kept changing, from participating to ‘boycotting’ while tacitly accepting Helal’s candidacy (more in previous AAN analyses, here and here).

The current draft agreement between HIG and the government follows years of negotiations through different channels. Talks started under president Karzai, around 2008 (or even earlier), but had no tangible results. They were then restarted under Ghani. HIG negotiator Karim told AP that Ghani in July 2014, while he was still campaigning to become president, had already approached Hekmatyar with a letter, suggesting to re-initiate talks.

What is in the agreement?

According to a soft copy of the agreement, dated 26 Saur 1395 (15 May 2016), that has widely circulated in Kabul and that AAN has obtained, Hezb will agree to cease all military anti-government activity and recognise the current Afghan constitution, in exchange for an exemption from prosecution for “the leader and the members of Hezb-e Islami with regard to past political and military measures [eqdamat]”, integration into the political system and a strong, if still undefined, role in political decision-making.

Many stipulations are left rather vague and remain subject to clarification by a “joint executive commission” (kamisyun-e mushtarak-e ejrayawi) that is to be established with a parity of representatives from both sides. This commission will also be responsible for the oversight of the agreement’s implementation and to settle disputes stemming from it.

The agreement starts with a preamble and general commitments (ta’ahudat) from both sides. These include the commitment to the current Afghan constitution and the values enshrined in it, including a specific reference to articles 2 and 3 stipulating that no Afghan law can be against “the tenets and provisions of Islam” and extending this further by stating that “the religious principles and guidance will be the original foundation of all laws and government action [italics by the author].” Furthermore there are joint commitments to elections, equality of women and men before the law, and Afghanistan as a unitary state that belongs to “all tribes [ethnic groups] and people” on its territory. Both sides also support the withdrawal of the foreign military forces “based on agreements that are in the national interest of the country.”

Chapter Two is divided into two parts and spells out the commitments made by each side: 14 for the government and four for HIG.

Based on the draft HIG commits that, after the agreement is signed, it will, “in order to permanently stop the war and violence (…) become active in the country as an important political party,” announce a “permanent ceasefire”, stop all military activity and dissolve its military structures. It will also release all prisoners and hand them over to the government, while the government arranges for the security of HIG members. HIG undertakes to maintaining no relationship with terrorist groups and illegal armed organisations and to giving no support to them. It will move its party offices to the provincial capitals and support the government’s peace efforts.

The list of government commitments starts with legal commitments. The government promises to work with the UN Security Council and all concerned states and international organisations to lift all sanctions against Hezb, its leader and members “in the shortest possible time” (Art. 5). It says it will provide legal immunity for the party’s leader and members and free all HIG-related prisoners who have not been sentenced for certain crimes and both sides agree on. To accomplish this, a “special judicial commission” will be established within three months. HIG will guarantee that released prisoners do not return to the battlefield (Art. 11).

On the political side, the government commits to provide freedom of travel and accommodation for “the honorable leader of Hezb-e Islami and other eminent personalities of that party” (Art. 6) and to give Hekmatyar the choice “of two or three appropriate residences,” including security arrangements, for which it will take on the costs (Art. 10). It will, according to the text of the agreement, further honour Hekmatyar in a special presidential decree “for his efforts for the liberation of the country,” (Art. 9) and will officially announce the right of Hezb to be active both in the political and the social realm and to participate in all elections, (Art. 7). It will also arrange for the presence of Hezb in the “consultation process for important government policies” (Art. 12).

The articles that most explicitly seek to provide Hezb with a guaranteed role in the government are 13 to 15.  Art. 13 provides for participation of Hezb in “government institutions,” the modalities of which will be agreed on in the joint commission and proposed to the presidential office. The same goes for the integration of “interested HIG individuals [fighters] and commanders” into the government forces (Art. 14). Art. 15 provides for the re-instating of officials and officers linked to HIG, who had been in government positions earlier, “based on the law.” This article leaves open to which positions and which period of time it refers.

It is in particular these articles, that contradict the claims of Hezb representatives, like deputy to the CEO Khan Muhammad and HIG chief negotiator Karim, that the agreement does not represent a ‘power sharing’ arrangement and that Hezb has neither demanded, nor been promised concrete government posts.

The agreement also provides for the voluntary return of refugees from HIG-related camps in Pakistan and other HIG members in exile, and the equal treatment of HIG-related disabled persons and family members of martyrs. Returnees will receive land “in Kabul and other provinces,” and about 20,000 families will be given help from “the international community.”

Art. 8 insists that the government is to “provide the circumstances for more reform of the electoral process” and to ensure HIG’s presence in the “reform process of the electoral system.” Hezb concedes that there might be not sufficient time to carry out electoral reform before the coming elections, but seems to have received assurance that there will be an “adjustment of the electoral system towards a party-based, proportional system” (nezam-e entekhabati-ye mutanaseb-e hezbi). The insistence on electoral reform and a role for Hezb in the reform process, shows political savvy and pragmatism, as it seeks influence in the electoral (reform) process and the electoral bodies, with an eye to future elections. Here, it partly overlaps with its old rival, Jamiat-e Islami, that favours strengthening parliamentary elements and the role of parties in the political system and, by that, decreasing the power of the president. Given that it is already extensively present in most spheres of the Afghan political system, Hezb probably assumes it would do well in party-based system.

HIG chief negotiator Eng. Muhammad Amin Karim,. Photo: Pajhwok.

HIG chief negotiator Eng. Muhammad Amin Karim,. Photo: Pajhwok.

Likely impact of the agreement

Although any cessation or decrease of violence will be welcomed by the population and it is clear that the government is keen to show success after the difficulties in its talks with the Taleban, the text of the agreement does suggest that the ‘peace’ may be bought rather expensively. Hezb’s comparatively low military impact on the current battlefield means that the agreement is unlikely to result in a major shift in the strategic balance between the insurgency and the government forces.

The agreement, if indeed signed and implemented as drafted, will result in a display of prestige for Hezb leader Hekmatyar, providing him a red-carpet return to the country, as well as honours, support and special treatment for him and his followers. The renewed access to resources is likely to translate into political power, as seen when Hekmatyar’s co-mujahedin leader returned to Afghanistan after having been pushed out by the Taleban in the mid-1990s.

It is debatable whether an agreement that so explicitly seeks to give positions and privileges as part of the peace negotiations, is the way to go. Or whether it will indeed be a good blueprint for a possible future peace accord with the Taleban. The experience of the NUG should serve as a warning that the division of government between different camps that need to negotiate every major decision and appointment along formulas reflecting power arithmetics, greatly complicates the business of governing. It hampers the prospects for reform and development, and threatens to bring the government to the point of paralysis.

How and when will the agreement become valid?

Technically, the ‘signing ceremony’ that was announced on social media and in the press, merely signalled the fact that the draft agreement was finalised and initialled by both sides (this was confirmed by a member of the HPC). But there seems to be some disagreement on how ‘final’ the current draft might be. A source close to the HPC told AAN on 19 May 2016 that the document “cannot be subject to any further changes [as it] has the agreement of all sides,” including that of “the internationals,” and because the HPC acted on behalf of the Afghan government.

On the other hand, Hezb chief negotiator Eng. Muhammad Amin Karim told Pajhwok on 14 May 2016 that the draft agreement – which according to him had already been finalised on 11 May – would continue to be shared with key members and officials of Hezb across the country and that this process could take “a few weeks or two months. (…) If they have no concern, the agreement will become ready for signature,” he said.

The draft that has circulated mentions three signatories to the agreement: the head of the High Peace Council, the leader (“Amir”) of Hezb-e Islami-ye Afghanistan and the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (see this picture). However, the sequence of the signing does not seem to be clear yet, or even between whom the agreement will be: whether it is a tripartite agreement signed by HIG, HPC and the president, or whether it is between HIG and the HPC, with a presidential endorsement. This would seem to make a difference in its enforceability.

HPC sources have told Afghan media that they envisage Hekmatyar coming to the country for a joint signing ceremony with the Afghan government. This was confirmed to AAN, with the addition that the time and venue are not clear yet. (3) Hezb chief negotiator Eng. Muhammad Amin Karim, on the other hand, told Pajhwok on 14 May 2016 that the return of Hekmatyar to Kabul was not a condition for signing the deal, but that it would facilitate the signing of the agreement immediately after it was signed by the president and the high peace council chairman.

Possible stumbling blocks

Although the High Peace Council and some officials appear optimistic about the scope of the current draft agreement, there are a few potential stumbling blocks and complexities. There is first of all a sequencing problem in the draft’s provision on taking HIG, Hekmatyar and other party leaders from the sanctions lists.

Hekmatyar was designated a “global terrorist” by the United States in 2003 and, on the request of the US, blacklisted by the United Nations in the same year. In both cases, HIG as an organisation is not listed. (Since 2005, it is on the British government’s list of “proscribed terrorist organisations”, though.) The Afghan government commits in the draft agreement to start the process to lift all sanctions against Hezb-e Islami, but such proceedings tend to take months, if not years, and apparently the Afghan government has not yet started. There are indications that Hekmatyar does not intend to sign the agreement until after the de-listing. Hezb chief negotiator Karim told Pajhwok (English version, not accurately translated, here) – partly cited in indirect quotes – that it was impossible for the HIA leadership to come to Kabul to sign the agreement when the HIA youth were imprisoned – a reference to Hezb fighters still in Afghan government custody – and that removing sanctions on HIG and removing names of the party leaders from blacklists were a prerequisite to sign the peace deal. In a direct quote from the interview, he said: “You cannot make peace with a party which [simultaneously] has its leadership on a list that makes it your target and on which a bounty is placed; such action is against the peace process.”

The de-listing, in turn, is complicated by the fact that the US apparently wants a clear commitment from Hezb that it will and has severed all links with terrorist groups and particularly, and explicitly, with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (Daesh). The draft, though, only speaks of “terrorist groups and illegal armed groups” in general. According to a source in the international community, the relevant Article 19 might, for that reason, still not be the final version.

In general, however, the US government expressed its “support” for “an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned process for a negotiated … resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan.” The State Department’s spokesman on 17 May 2016 went on to say:

All relevant groups, including Hezb-e-Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, should be a part of such a political dialogue so that Afghans can talk directly to other Afghans about the future of their country. So in this regard, we would welcome political negotiations that have been taking place. (…) we’re going to continue to seek reconciliation conditions, including that any reconciled group must end the violence – these are end conditions, not preconditions – that any reconciled group must end violence, break associations with international terrorism, and accept Afghanistan’s constitution, as we’ve said many times, which includes the protections for women and for minorities.

Another stumbling block could be the long-standing and often violent rivalry between Hezb and the former ‘Northern Alliance,’ and particularly its core party, Jamiat-e Islami. This rivalry dates back to the early years of both parties; it continued throughout the Soviet occupation (1979-89), and did not end when the Soviets departed. (4)

The animosity resounds in statements like that of former intelligence chief (and erstwhile assistant to Ahmad Shah Massud) Amrullah Saleh, who lambasted Hekmatyar in a Facebook post for his Pakistani connections and his “40 years in a place of anti-Afghanistan conspiracies” and tweeted that “[t]hree pages of vague & rosy redemption doesn’t make a terrorist a good person overnight“ – although in both cases without mentioning his name.

CEO Abdullah, in contrast, who belonged to Jamiat’s inner leadership during the most vicious conflicts with Hezb, stated some days ago that the situation had changed. He said he had already enjoyed the support of Hezb’s registered wing during the 2014 elections and was now ready to sit down with Hekmatyar for a meal in a sign of reconciliation.

Other consequences of the agreement

One of the major consequences of a possible return of Hekmatyar to Afghanistan will be the possible merging of the different, currently quarrelling factions of Hezb that are politically active in the country and of HIG under a united leadership. There are three groups: the registered mainstream party, led by Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, who was economy minister under Karzai, that supported Abdullah in the 2014 election; the so-called Alliance of Hezb-e Islami Councils, a loose group of party heavyweights that did not follow Arghandiwal in the elections and supported Ghani instead; and a smaller sub-faction led by Muhammad Khaled Faruqi, who belongs to the same tribe as Hekmatyar. Faruqi was the first leader of Hezb’s wing inside Afghanistan before it was registered in 2004 and – not fully voluntarily – replaced after a party congress in 2007 by Arghandiwal. Several attempts, including by Hekmatyar deputy Helal, have been made in the past to bring these groups together again, but so far they have failed.

Renewed unification attempts – that of course also serve to improve one’s position in case Hekmatyar’s does indeed return to the country and the top of the party – have already gained a new dynamic. Juma Khan Hamdard, a former governor of Balkh and Paktia and member of the Hezb Councils, recently brought together Hezb members of different strands to prepare for the return of Hekmatyar (see this picture). According to Afghan media, former presidential candidate and Hekmatyar deputy Helal meanwhile has been made the “joint head of Hezb-e Islami’s branches.”

If the agreement, in its current form, is indeed endorsed and implemented, it could also result in the return of thousands of refugees from camps in Pakistan, particularly from Shamshatu, a refugee settlement near Peshawar, that has traditionally been controlled and used as both a recruitment reservoir and the seat of the party’s leadership council by Hezb. A mass return of such a politically allied population, particularly if they are housed in specific areas, would provide Hezb with a continued recruitment and mobilisation base. Moreover, a preferential treatment for returnees from Shamshatu may well alienate other returnees who already have to struggle with a myriad of problems, particularly access to land (AAN analysis on this here). And it might draw ‘new’ Afghan refugees to Shamshatu, who have been living elsewhere in Pakistan so far.

The draft agreement mentions international support for the voluntary return of 20,000 families (although AAN was told by UNHCR that it had not yet been contacted by the government on the issue). According to a joint document of UNHCR and the administration of the Pakistani Khyber Agency, where Shamshatu is situated, the HIG section of Shamshatu had 37,995 inhabitants in October 2015. But given the long existence of Shamshatu (it is some times called a “refugee village” rather than a “camp”), a significant number of families might want to stay put.

Does the peace agreement signal impunity?

The draft peace agreement raises questions as what to do with the accusations and evidence of gross human rights violations during the decades of war (for detail see for example the report “Casting Shadows: War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity: 1978-2001“ by The Afghanistan Justice Project. Patricia Gossman, senior Afghanistan researcher for Human Rights Watch, has summarised this recently in the Los Angeles Times:

Many Afghans revile Hekmatyar because his forces relentlessly and indiscriminately rocketed and shelled Kabul in the early 1990s. His forces weren’t the only ones to do it, but they carried out some of the worst attacks, killing and wounding thousands.”

But it seems Hezb will be protected twice against being held to account, first by the particular clause in the peace agreement and second by the so-called amnesty bill (AAN analysis here) that came into force in 2010 and provides a blanket amnesty to all sides for the pre-2001 Afghan wars. This, of course, does not preclude accountability based on international law.

Although the International Criminal Court (ICC) has mentioned HIG in its preliminary reports, there are no indications that intends to investigate allegations against the party, given the ICC’s worldwide workload and HIG’s relative insignificance, particularly after 2003 when Afghanistan became party to the ICC. It would be in the capacity of the ICC, however, to look into the last large terrorist attack claimed by Hezb, a suicide bombing in Kabul in May 2013, as a result of which 16 people, including three US citizens, were killed.

In contrast to when he chose General Dostum as his running mate in 2014 (see AAN analysis here), President Ghani does not seem to have insisted on a public apology from HIG for its involvement in past violence. The specific honours promised to Hekmatyar will be difficult to swallow for the relatives of victims of Hezb, both among the civilian population and the former rival mujahedin.

A blueprint for peace with the Taleban?

The government and some of its international allies also seem to hope that the agreement could serve as a possible blueprint for a desired peace accord with the Taleban (see for example here). But this seems overly optimistic. First, the Taleban have repeatedly rebuffed overtures of the Kabul government for direct talks. Attempts to arm-twist them into accepting such talks by the Quadrilateral Coordination Group have so far gone nowhere (the QCG just held its fifth meeting amid a low of optimism, after Afghanistan hardened its position vis-à-vis both Pakistan and the Taleban; see AAN analysis here). In contrast to the Taleban’s rejectionist position, Hezb had not just initiated, but had keenly pursued talks with the government in Kabul under Karzai. This can be largely explained by the fact that a peace deal was always likely to increase, possibly even inflate, Hezb’s political and military relevance – both in the run-up to and after any eventual agreement.

A Taleban spokesman explicitly poured cold water over the idea that they may be inspired to follow suit, when he stated that the deal with Hezb-e Islami would have “no impact” on the movement’s position and that “a majority of Hezb-i-Islami members are already part of the government.”

It is also questionable that the Taleban would be inspired by an organisation with which they had enjoyed increasingly strained relations, particularly in the last years, although they were theoretically fighting the same enemies. The two groups started as rivals when the Taleban emerged in the mid-1990s. The Taleban then defeated Hezb on its way from Kandahar to Kabul and absorbed a number of its fighters; Hekmatyar had to give up his headquarters in Chahrasyab, south of Kabul, under their first their onslaught in early 1995 and fled to Iran a year later, when they took Kabul. After the US-led military intervention, Hekmatyar entered into a tacit alliance with the Taleban. At least, that is what he said in a 2006 interview with the Arabic newspaper al-Hayat (quoted here):

We issued clear instructions to the Mojaheddin in Hezb-e Eslami to help anyone acting against the occupation in their areas. We respect and appreciate the efforts everyone is exerting in this direction. I admit to you, as head of the Hezb-e Eslami organization here, that there is not, very unfortunately, comprehensive and full coordination in all the fields and fronts with “Al-Qa’idah” and Taleban at the leaders’ level, though this is present at the individuals’ level in the various areas and we back it and wish it to spread and broaden. […] We negotiated with the Taleban on the various issues. But, very unfortunately, we have not reached an official agreement so far. The brothers in Taleban are acting alone and independently and we are acting alone and independently too.’

In March 2007, Hekmatyar announced an end to this cooperation because “certain elements among the Taliban rejected the idea of a joint struggle against the aggressor” and proclaimed his readiness for talks with the Karzai government. Since then, repeated fighting has been reported between the two groups, including in the Hezb strongholds in Baghlan and Wardak.

What will happen now?

There are rumours that Hekmatyar may be in bad health. Afghanistan’s first lady, Rula Ghani, told the audience at an event held by the US Institute of Peace (quoted here) that Hekmatyar and other former mujahedin leaders were “old people” who should be allowed to come back. “If they want to come to Afghanistan and finish their lives where they were born, I think it is only the human way to say, ‘OK, you come, but we put some conditions.’” Others are more sceptical: “I think he is very ambitious. He would not come to Kabul and accept an isolated life,” said Haroun Mir, a Kabul-based political analyst. “He would certainly engage in politics, and we know what kind of politics he favors…”

Hekmatyar’s senior co-mujahedin leader, the late Maulawi Yunos Khales, was quoted in a 2006 portrait of the Hezb leader published by the Jamestown Foundation:

I pray to god to let Hekmatyar live among us in Pakistan, but I don’t want him with us in Afghanistan because he would not let anyone, other than himself, become the country’s leader.


(1) The Washington Post reported that the HPC was kept “technically operational” after the “US rushed in $5 million to pay [HPC] administrators” while the money for the Afghanistan Peace and Reconciliation Programme managed by the Joint Secretariat under the HPC was “drying up… amid broader scrutiny here [in Afghanistan] and in Washington of de-radicalization efforts.”

(2) The exact founding year is contested. Hezbis often mention 1968, but the actual split of the originally unified, but loosely organised urban Islamist movement into Jamiat and Hezb happen in the mid-1970s, most likely as a result of the failed uprising in July 1975.

(3) It is not fully clear where Hekmatyar is now. First deputy to the CEO, Khan Muhammad, who is from Hezb’s legal wing in Afghanistan recently said he did not know Hekmatyar’s whereabouts. HIG usually claims he is based inside Afghanistan, but he is mainly believed to shuttle between Afghanistan (particularly Kunar) and Chitral, Bajaur and Mohmand agencies on the Pakistani side of the border. Many of his followers and part of the party’s leadership live in Shamshatu camp in Pakistan and his sons live in Peshawar. Hekmatyar has stopped holding speeches in the camp since the emergence of the Taleban in mid-1990s. His last Eid message was read in his name.

(4) The rivalry between Hezb and Jamiat started in 1975 when Hekmatyar and Massud, then members of the Muslim Youth (Jawanan-e Musalman), accused each other of betrayal after their armed Islamist uprising against then President Muhammad Daud failed. After the emergence of their separate organisations, fighters of both sides clashed in Parachinar (Pakistan) as early as in December 1978, according to Edward Girardet (Edward Girardet, Killing the Cranes: A Reporter’s Journey Through Three Decades of War in Afghanistan, 2001, p 174-5 and Edward Girardet, Afghanistan: The Soviet War, 1985, p 170). A climax was reached, when on 9 July 1989 a group of commanders associated with Massud’s Shura-ye Nazar – Jamiat’s main military wing – ran into a Hezb ambush on their way back from a planning meeting with Massud in Farkhar district, Takhar province. 30 men were killed, including seven commanders. The ambushers were hunted down, captured by Massud’s men, sentenced to death and executed in December 1989 in a public park in Taloqan (read here and here).

In late April 1992, when the Najib government collapsed, both sides clashed heavily over control of Kabul, with Massud’s forces gaining the upper hand and pushing Hekmatyar’s forces out of Kabul (Hekmatyar was officially the Prime Minister, but had not yet been instated as he was kept out of the city by the fighting). On the morning of New Year’s Day 1994, an alliance of Hezb with Khalili’s Wahdat and Dostum’s Jombesh tried to topple the Jamiat government, triggering years of fighting that ultimately resulted in the emergence of Taleban, who pushed both Jamiat and Hezb out of Kabul. In a last ditch effort to fend off the Taleban in June 1996, Jamiat made peace with Hezb and Hekmatyar was allowed to return to Kabul for the first time since his student days, where he was sworn into the position of Prime Minister he had been denied so far. The Bonn conference after the fall of the Taleban brought Jamiat to power, while Hezb was not invited.


peace agreement Gulbuddin Hekmatyar Hezb-e Islami-ye Afghanistan HIG High Peace Council


Martine van Bijlert

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