UN lifts sanctions against leader of Hezb-i-Islami group Hekmatyar in Afghanistan
Feb.5, Kabul: The United Nations has lifted sanctions against Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of the Hezb-i-Islami group in Afghanistan and one of the most infamous figures in the country's civil war in the 1990s.
According to report, the decision by the UN Security Council late on Friday follows a peace deal signed by the Afghan government and Hekmatyar's largely dormant group in September.
The accord gave Hekmatyar amnesty for past offences and granted him full political rights. It also allowed for the release of certain Hezb-i-Islami prisoners.
In a statement, the Security Council said it had dropped a freeze that had been put on Hekmatyar's assets, as well as a travel ban and an arms embargo against him.
Hekmatyar was one of the most influential leaders in the fight against Soviet forces in the 1980s. He briefly accepted the position of prime minister in an administration following the collapse of a Soviet-backed government in 1992.
Once branded as "the butcher of Kabul", Hekmatyar was accused of killing thousands of people when his fighters fired on civilian areas of the capital, Kabul, during the country's 1992-1996 civil war.
Hekmatyar's whereabouts are unknown but Ghairat Baheer, Hezb-i-Islami's chief negotiator, told Al Jazeera that, with the sanctions now removed, he would eventually return to the Afghan capital.
The UN's decision could pave the way for other armed groups, such as the Taliban, to enter peace negotiations, according to Baheer.
He also urged the Afghan government to implement September's peace accord "completely and honestly" and called against the interference of foreign powers in Afghan affairs.
NATO forces officially ended their combat mission in December 2014. Yet, in July last year US troops were granted greater powers to launch strikes against Taliban fighters as ex-President Barack Obama vowed a more aggressive campaign.
The US still has about 8,400 troops in the country.
The Oslo Times International News Network