Afghan government signs draft peace deal, first since 2001


Afghanistan’s government signed a draft peace deal on Thursday with a designated “global terrorist” after lengthy negotiations that could pave the way for a similar accord with the Taliban, who have been waging war on Kabul for 15 years.

The deal with warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is the country’s first peace agreement since the Taliban launched their insurgency in 2001, after being driven from power in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

It grants full political rights to his Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin party and obliges the Afghan authorities to work to have it removed from the United Nations’ list of foreign terrorist organizations.

Hekmatyar himself was designated by the U.S. as a “global terrorist” in 2003. He was blacklisted at Washington’s request by the U.N. the same year, and has similar status with the British government.

The agreement ends years of talks between Kabul and Hekmatyar, who is in his late 60s. It should enable him to return to Afghanistan after 20 years in exile – he is believed to live in Pakistan – as it includes provisions for his security at government expense.