The September 2016 peace accord between the Afghan government and the Hezb-e Islami militant group has been regarded as a first major step toward restoring Afghanistan to a state of peace. This Special Report provides a firsthand account of the protracted negotiations that led to the agreement—and offers important insights for how similar talks might proceed with the Taliban.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar addresses supporters in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in March 2018. (Photo by Ghulamullah Habibi/ EPA-EFE/ Shutterstock)
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar addresses supporters in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in March 2018. (Photo by Ghulamullah Habibi/ EPA-EFE/ Shutterstock)

Summary

  • For more than four decades, Afghanistan has been in a state of war and violent conflict that has destroyed much of the country’s physical and social infrastructure and prevented the formation of a state stable enough to establish law and order.
  • Although several internal and external factors contributed to the conflict and its current political and security environment, a key factor has been weak Afghan leadership, exacerbated by political frictions among elites.
  • Peacemaking is a difficult process, but often the most difficult part is how to start peace talks. Thus, the experience of negotiating peace between the Afghan government and the Hezb-e Islami insurgent group offers unique insights on peacemaking in the modern era.
  • This report, based on the author’s experience working as a negotiator during talks between the Afghan government and Hezb-e Islami, presents a firsthand account of the challenges and divisions that had to be overcome in order to make the September 2016 peace agreement possible.
  • After the peace accord with Hezb-e Islami, Afghans have another historic chance to bring an end to years of conflict with the Taliban. The Afghan government’s negotiations with Hezb-e Islami provide important lessons that can be applied to future peace negotiations with the Taliban.

About the Report

This report is a firsthand account of the peace negotiations between the Afghan government and Hezb-e Islami, an Afghan insurgent group that fought against the government and its allies for seventeen years. It addresses the specific challenges facing the talks—including extensive outreach and consultations needed to build a consensus for peace at the national and international levels—and offers insights on future peace talks with the Taliban.

About the Author

From 2015 to 2018, Qaseem Ludin was a senior adviser to the Office of the National Security Council of Afghanistan. He was a key negotiator in the peace talks with the Hezb-e Islami insurgent group that resulted in the signing of the September 2016 peace accord between President Ashraf Ghani and Hezb-e Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

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