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Afghan Govt-HIA peace agreement an ‘encouraging’ step: US general

Afghan Govt-HIA peace agreement an ‘encouraging’ step: US general

Sep 24, 2016 - 11:45

KABUL (Pajhwok): NATO Resolute Support (RS) Commander has termed Afghan government and Hizb-i-Islami (HIA) peace deal an "encouraging" step in the effort to resolve the country's conflict, a media report said on Saturday.

"This is positive in the sense that this represents a group that is residing largely outside of Afghanistan that is now reaching a reconciliation agreement with the government which will eventually involve a reintegration into Afghan society," Army General John Nicholson told reporters at the Pentagon.

"This is one of the most important steps we see towards an eventual resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan," Nicholson said.

According to the News International, the US general added that he was concerned about the high level of casualties among Afghan forces, which mainly take place at check points that are often under-equipped.

Earlier on Thursday, The Ashraf Ghani administration and the  HIA led by Gulbadin Hikmatyar on Thursday signed a landmark peace deal after two years of negotiations.

On behalf of the government, the agreement was signed by High Peace Council (HPC) Chairman Pir Syed Ahmad Gilani and National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar.

Eng. Mohammad Amin Karim and Political Affairs head Ghairat Baher affixed their signatures to the pact, the first of its kind since 2001, which is expected to help boost prospects for lasting peace in the country.

The HIA -- the second largest insurgent outfit in Afghanistan after theTaliban -- has agreed to embrace the country’s constitution and dismantle its armed wing under the peace accord. In return, the government has promised the release of HIA prisoners and lifting all restrictions on the group.

Release of prisoners by both sides, the appointment of HIA supporters to government jobs and inclusion of its leadership in the decision-making process on key political issues are among major points of the deal.

The two sides have also agreed on making HIA part of the electoral reform process and repatriation of Afghan refugees from the Nasrat Mena camp and other parts of Pakistan. They pledged unconditional adherence to the principles of Islam.

Under the agreement, protection of national interest and enforcement the rule of law will be a joint responsibility of the two parties, which agreed the Afghans could ward off any threat though unity.