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Hekmatyar: Hizb-e-Islami Protest Will Kick Off Friday

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Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar on Thursday warned that the protests of his supporters against the government will begin on Friday, during which he will set a 10-day deadline for the government to address the group’s demands.  

Hekmatyar, who signed a peace deal with the government in 2016, said the demands include an end to (targeted) attacks, an end to the “opposition against peace,” respect for the Doha agreement, an agreement on a ceasefire, the transfer of power to a new government, an end to forming militias, the prevention of looting of national treasures and the inclusion of the Hizb-e-Islami group within the government.  

He warned that the protests would be extended to other provinces if his demands were not met. 

“In that case, our demand will be something else: All our demands will change to one demand, and that will be: step down, step down,” Hekmatyar said, presumably directing this comment to President Ashraf Ghani. 

Hekmatyar mentioned that he has spoken online with US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Khalilzad has told him about the “failure” of the Doha talks. 

“I was the first person who Khalilzad met with and he told me that he will meet me after meeting other leaders,” Hekmatyar said. “I am supporting Khalilzad’s new mission.” 

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a speech stressed the need for a diplomatic solution in the country. 

 “When we look back at the past decades of our military involvement in the world, especially in Afghanistan and the Middle East, we must remember what we’ve learned about the limits of force to build a durable peace; that the day after a major military intervention is always harder than we imagine; and how critical it is to pursue every possible avenue to a diplomatic solution. Of course, we will never hesitate to use force when American lives and vital interests are at stake.”

This comes as the Biden administration has stated it is reviewing the US-Taliban agreement as the talks in Doha have stalled. 

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