Afghans Sign Peace Deal With Terror Boss

Afghan officials signed a peace deal Thursday with terrorist and warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, following long negotiations. The agreement with the “butcher of Kabul” potentially clears the way for a peace deal with the Taliban, who have been at war in the area for 15 years. The deal gives full political rights to Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i-Islami party and will require Afghan officials to request that it be removed from the United Nations’ list of terrorist organizations. Hekmatyar, who has been in exile from Afghanistan for 20 years, will be protected by the government upon his return, despite accusations that he was responsible for war crimes and mass killings. He was nearly killed in an American drone strike after the U.S.-led coalition toppled Afghanistan’s Taliban regime in 2001. He is believed to have been hiding out across the border in Pakistan since then. “It proves peace is possible,” said Franz-Michael Mellbin, the EU’s special representative for Afghanistan. President Ashraf Ghani made several campaign promises that he would bring peace and security to the country, and the agreement with Hekmatyar is seen by many as a victory, as it is evidence Ghani’s administration is capable of making compromises in hopes of eventually brokering a similar deal with the Taliban. Critics, however, panned the deal as paving the way for a divisive figure to carve himself a role in Afghanistan’s polarized political landscape. Human Rights Watch called the deal “an affront to victims of grave abuses.”