After nearly two decades underground, Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar returned Saturday to public life in Afghanistan and urged the Taliban to lay down their arms and join “the peace caravan.”
Hekmatyar, 69, met with members of the armed group Hezb-i-Islami and was greeted by supporters who chanted “Long live Hezb-i-Islami” and “God is great.”
He who spoke at an outdoor ceremony in Laghman province where he told his members, “Let’s join hands to end war and bring peace in Afghanistan.”
The meeting on Friday came after Hezb-i-Islami signed a peace deal in September with the Afghan government under President Ashraf Ghani.
In a statement, the government said that President Ghani welcomes Hekmatyar’s return to the country, which was made possible by the peace process.
“The deal shows that Afghans have the capacity to resolve the conflict through dialogue,” according to the statement from the presidential palace.
Many were surprised with Afghan warlord’s remarks of the given his role in fighting American troops after the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. He was designated by the U.S. as a “global terrorist” in 2003.
The Daily Caller reports:
Hekmatyar’s reentry into Afghan politics is the result of a peace initiative by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who is trying to get warlords to renounce violence and enter the political process. Ghani pardoned the warlord in September paved the way for members of his political party to run for political office.