Sat, 18 Sep 2021

KABUL, Afghanistan - On Saturday, the United Nations dropped the name of the infamous Afghan warlord from its sanctions list created for Al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of the Hezb-i-Islami group was dropped from the sanctions list.

UNSC said in a statement, "On 3 February 2017, the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015) concerning ISIL (Da'esh), AlQaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities removed the name below from the ISIL (Da'esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions List.  Therefore, the assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo set out in paragraph 2 of Security Council resolution 2253 (2015) no longer apply to the name set out below."

During the bloody Afghan Civil War in the 1990s, Hekmatyar emerged as a major figure, and was accused of indiscriminately firing rockets into Kabul, alongside other human rights abuses. He, however, played only a small role in the current insurgent conflict in Afghanistan. 

Then, after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan and ouster of the Taliban, the U.S. State Department declared him a terrorist.

He was accused of taking part in and supporting attacks by al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

The dropping of his name from the sanctions list was not taken well by many human rights groups.

But the move by UN comes after Hekmatyar agreed to drop arms last year.

In September last year, the leader had signed treaties with the Ashraf Ghani government, in a bid to remove his party from the terror blacklists.

After the signing of the treaty between the warlord and the government, the Afghan Government sent out a formal letter to the UNSC asking them to remove his name from the sanctions list and pardon him.

Meanwhile, Hezb-i-Islami's chief peace negotiator, Amin Karim said that the removal of Hekmatyar's name shows that political discussions are the "only logical way to achieve peace in Afghanistan."

With the sanctions over him being lifted, it remains to be seen how this will impact the regime of President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

Now, with the sanctions lifted, the notorious Afghan warlord, whose whereabouts have been unknown since the September 2016 peace deal, can return openly to Afghanistan.

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