A brawl erupted over the Kabul government potentially engaging in peace negotiations with the terrorist group Hezb-e-Islami during a televised debate on the issue in Afghanistan.
Excerpts from the Afghan debate, which was published on the privately-owned ITV channel, have gone viral on social media, reports Khaama Press (KP).
“The brawl erupts as one of the debate participants calls a peace deal with Hezb-e-Islami as ineffective, calling [its leader Gulbuddin] Hekmatyar a terrorist who is still internationally blacklisted,” notes the report.
“The remarks by the debate participant angers the other participant who speaks in favor of Hekmatyar, calling Hezb-e-Islami a key party which has a major influence in the country,” it adds. “The brawl among the two participants leads to exchange of punches as the host and another analyst rushes to end the fight.”
Although Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) is not listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, its leader has been deemed a global terrorist by America.
However, the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) — which includes the United States, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China — has urged to group the engage in direct peace negotiations with the Afghan government.
HIG is “a virulently anti-Western insurgent group whose goal is to replace the Western-backed Afghan Government with an Islamic state rooted in sharia in line with Hekmatyar’s vision of a Pashtun-dominated Afghanistan,” reports the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).
The terrorist group has been linked to the deaths of American civilians and military personnel as well as attacks against the Afghan government and other Western interests in the Afghanistan.
HIG has “claimed responsibility for a suicide VBIED [vehicle-borne improvised explosive device] attack in Kabul on 10 February 2014, which killed at least two US civilians and wounded two other Americans and seven Afghan nationals,” notes the NCTC:
HIG was also responsible for a 16 May 2013 suicide VBIED attack in Kabul, which destroyed a US armored SUV and killed two US soldiers, four US civilian contractors, eight Afghans—including two children—and wounded at least 37 others. The attack marked the deadliest incident against US personnel in Kabul in over a year.
U.S. officials have linked the terrorist group to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Despite the HIG’s violent past, Afghanistan reportedly signed a draft peace accord with the jihadist group last month.
“Under the draft, members of Hezb-e-Islami would be offered an amnesty, similar to that offered in 2007 to warlords accused of war crimes, as well as a release of prisoners held by Afghan authorities,” reports Reuters. “The government would also work to have the group removed from a U.N. blacklist.”
“The group, which for years had close ties with Pakistan, would not join the government but would be recognized as a political party and be involved in major political decisions,” it adds.
While human rights groups have reportedly criticized the move, the U.S. State Department welcomed it but added that Gulbuddin remains a designated terrorist.
The GCG is also trying to bring the Taliban to the peace negotiation table.
“Hezb-e-Islami has played only a minor role in the Taliban-led insurgency in recent years and the deal is unlikely to have any immediate practical impact on security,” notes Reuters.
“But with little sign that the Taliban are ready to join peace talks, the deal offers President Ashraf Ghani’s government a concrete sign that it is making headway in drawing insurgent groups away from the battlefield and into the political process,” it adds.