Addressing a large group of dignitaries at the Presidential Palace, the Hizb-e-Islami leader told the Taliban he is happy to mediate for them.
Hekmatyar Calls Taliban ‘Brothers’, Urges Them To Lay Down Arms
Addressing a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on Thursday, Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar called Taliban “brothers” and asked them to join the peace process.
Speaking to the large group of dignitaries present including President Ashraf Ghani, CEO Abdullah Abdullah, former president Hamid Karzai and a number of ex-Jihadi leaders among other high-ranking officials, Hekmatyar called on the Taliban to try peace and said if they were not happy with this, he would return to “the mountains with them”.
“Taliban are brothers. There are good as well as bad amongst them. It will be sad if someone ignores this,” he added.
“We are here to, without any condition, accompany those who want peace in the country. We want to end the war which only sacrifices Afghans and only destroys Afghans’ homes,” Hekmatyar said.
He also offered his services to the Taliban and said he would act as their mediator in talks with the Afghan government.
In reference to remarks he made recently regarding the media in the country, Hekmatyar said he is not against freedom of speech but he is against “banality”.
Meanwhile, President Ashraf Ghani said at the event that those militants who are not interested in joining the peace process would fail and would be eliminated.
“To the Taliban I say actually who is your leader? Where is he? Apart from war, murder and destruction to this nation, what plans do you have?,” he asked.
He said the people are ready to pay any price for peace.
“Dialogue should lead us to be trusted not to cause confrontation. On the other hand access to power comes through elections. We are ready for peace and will pay any price to achieve it,” Ghani stated.
At the same event, former Jihadi leader Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf said the past should be put behind everyone and a new page of friendship and coexistence should be opened.
“These people (Afghans) will finally come together,” said Sayyaf, referring to interference by the foreigners, adding that, “the winter will pass, but black face for the coal will remain,” he said quoting an Afghan proverb which means an outside force who creates division within two people will finally face the consequences of his actions.
Former president Hamid Karzai meanwhile said he would call Taliban “compatriots” or “compatriot brothers”.
“From today on, I will call them [the Taliban] compatriots or compatriot brothers,” Karzai said.
The CEO Abdullah Abdullah meanwhile said he appreciates Hekmatyar’s move to call the Taliban brothers.
“We respect your recommendation about calling Taliban brothers. In order to implement your recommendation and in order for us to have a period of time for being convinced about this, with your permission I will call them [Taliban] as brothers of Mr. Hekmatyar – for now, temporarily,” he added.
Other participants at the gathering insisted that the past must be forgotten about in order to avoid a repeat of chaos and civil war in the country.
This came after Hekmatyar made a grand entrance into Kabul on Thursday – the first such trip in about 20 years. Traveling in a convoy with hundreds of heavily armed men, Hekmatyar arrived by road from Nangarhar shortly after mid-day.
Hekmatyar’s return to Afghanistan last weekend was followed by the release of the first batch of Hizb-e-Islami prisoners earlier this week, in accordance with a peace agreement reached between the former militant and the Afghan government late last year.