RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan
May 11, 2017
Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e Islami group said on May 11 that it will not hand over its weapons, despite pledging to do so as part of a peace deal signed with the government in September.
The decision prompted a rebuke from President Ashraf Ghani’s office, with a spokesman urging the militant group to adhere to the agreement, under which Hezb-e Islami pledged to lay down its arms and end its insurgency.
The deal also said Hezb-e Islami fighters interested in joining government forces would be integrated into the Afghan security forces.
Hezb-e Islami spokesman Qareem ur Rahman said on May 11 that it was “necessary” for the group’s 3,500 militia fighters to keep their weapons for protection from extremist organizations such as the Taliban and Islamic State (IS).
“Our [fighters] have come under attacks from militants,” said Rahman. “If they put down their weapons who will guarantee their safety?”
A spokesman for Ghani, Dawa Khan Menapal, said the security of the country was the government’s “responsibility” and that Hezb-e Islami’s concerns were “unwarranted.”
Hekmatyar, one of the country’s most notorious warlords, returned to Kabul last week following more than two decades in self-imposed exile.