Addressing a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on Thursday, Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar called Taliban “brothers” and asked them to join the peace process.
Speaking to the large group of dignitaries present including President Ashraf Ghani, CEO Abdullah Abdullah, former president Hamid Karzai and a number of ex-Jihadi leaders among other high-ranking officials, Hekmatyar called on the Taliban to try peace and said if they were not happy with this, he would return to “the mountains with them”.
“Taliban are brothers. There are good as well as bad amongst them. It will be sad if someone ignores this,” he added.
“We are here to, without any condition, accompany those who want peace in the country. We want to end the war which only sacrifices Afghans and only destroys Afghans’ homes,” Hekmatyar said.
He also offered his services to the Taliban and said he would act as their mediator in talks with the Afghan government.
In reference to remarks he made recently regarding the media in the country, Hekmatyar said he is not against freedom of speech but he is against “banality”.
Meanwhile, President Ashraf Ghani said at the event that those militants who are not interested in joining the peace process would fail and would be eliminated.
He said the people are ready to pay any price for peace.
“Dialogue should lead us to be trusted not to cause confrontation. On the other hand access to power comes through elections. We are ready for peace and will pay any price to achieve it,” Ghani stated.
At the same event, former Jihadi leader Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf said the past should be put behind everyone and a new page of friendship and coexistence should be opened.
“These people (Afghans) will finally come together,” said Sayyaf, referring to interference by the foreigners, adding that, “the winter will pass, but black face for the coal will remain,” he said.
Former president Hamid Karzai meanwhile said he would call Taliban “compatriots” or “compatriot brothers”.
“From today on, I will call them [the Taliban] compatriots or compatriot brothers,” Karzai said.
The CEO Abdullah Abdullah meanwhile said he appreciates Hekmatyar’s move to call the Taliban brothers.
“We respect your recommendation about calling Taliban brothers. In order to implement your recommendation and in order for us to have a period of time for being convinced about this, with your permission I will call them [Taliban] as brothers of Mr. Hekmatyar – for now, temporarily,” he added.