After being in exile for more than two decades, the Hezb-i-Islami leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, (a declared terrorist in 2003 for his association with Al-Qaeda)[i] made his first public appearance in Afghanistan’s Laghman province on April 29, 2017. Hekmatyar’s return to Afghanistan was a result of a peace deal signed with President Ashraf Ghani on September 29, 2016.
The agreement, which is believed to have taken more than six years of negotiations,[ii] is a much needed success for the government of National Unity which stands highly divided on the issue of pursuing peace with the Taliban. Although this is the first major breakthrough for President Ghani, who unlike his predecessor, has succeeded in convincing one of (if not the major) insurgent group to lay down their arms, accept the constitution and become a part of mainstream politics.[iii]