UN Drops Sanctions Against Notorious Afghan Warlord

The move, requested by Kabul, was taken late on Friday by the world body, which said in a subsequent statement that "the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015) concerning ISIL (Daesh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities removed the name below [Gulbuddin Hekmatyar] from the ISIL (Daesh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions List".

The removal of sanctions on Hekmatyar has led to unfreezing of his assets, as well as dropping of a travel ban and arms embargo against him.

"We welcome the recent announcement of United Nations of removing name of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of Hizb-e-Islami of Afghanistan, and we are optimistic the move would further boost peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan", said Mohammad Akram Khpalwak, presidential adviser on political affairs, Xinhua reported.

The 25-point peace agreement between the Afghan Government and the terror group gives Hekmatyar and his followers' immunity for past actions and grants them full political rights.

Rights activists have expressed concerns about long-standing accusations of human rights abuses against Hekmatyar, saying he was responsible for some of the worst atrocities committed during the civil war in the 1990s.

Militants stepped up attacks previous year, and the government has lost 15 percent of the territory it controls, maintaining rule in just 60 percent of the country, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said in its latest report on Tuesday. Many foreign governments, including the United States, had praised the peace deal at the time as a step towards peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Khpolwak added that joint commission work is underway for the implementation of the other articles of the main agreement between the government and the Hezb-i-Islami such as releasing Hezb-i-Islami prisoners whose files have been finalized and accepting the return of the refugees who couldn't return to their homeland earlier from different provinces.

This decision by the United Nations could spell for a shaky foundation for President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

It would also "open the door" and stimulate the peace process and would send a "strong signal to other fighters" in the country, he said in reference to the Taliban. His return could stir up new political uncertainty as the government struggles to confront a reinvigorated Taliban that has been advancing on several fronts. He is believed to be now hiding in the eastern Kunar province, where he enjoys popular support.

  • Jon Douglas