Former Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar to contest presidential polls

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Former Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar to contest presidential polls
Afghan prisoners listen to a speech before their release from Pul-e-Charkhi prison, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, June 14, 2018. The Afghan president pardoned 185 prisoners loyal to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former warlord and U.S.-declared terrorist who signed a peace agreement with Kabul in 2016. Writing on the man's arm indicates that he came from Bagram Prison, with an official's signature and stamp approving his transfer to Pul-e-Charkhi prison for release. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

Kabul:  Gulbudin Hekmatyar, a former Afghan warlord and leader of the Hezb-e-Islami political party, registered with the country’s Election Commission on Saturday to contest the July 20 presidential election.

Hekmatyar registered his name with the poll body along with his two deputies — Fazal Hadi Wazin and Qazi Hafiz Ur Rehman Naqi — who will run for first and second Vice Presidents in the polls, the Khaama Press reported.

Hekmatyar is believed to be responsible for killing of tens of thousands of civilians in Kabul during the 1990s civil war and was nicknamed the “Butcher of Kabul”.

Talking to the media after registering his name, Hekmatyar said that he was an “Independent candidate” and wanted the Election Commission to ensure free and fair elections that could facilitate the voters to choose their franchise in favour of their favourite candidates freely.

An anti-government warlord, whose forces had fought against the government and the US-led forces in Afghanistan for about 15 years, inked a peace deal with the government in 2016 and returned to Kabul in May 2017. Hekmatyar told reporters that he wanted durable peace and security in Afghanistan.

Hekmatyar, the country’s Prime Minister from 1992 to 1996, also slammed the government regarding the existing situation in the country and claimed that the government leadership was to blame for the ongoing violence.

He added that the lingering fighting claimed more than 100 lives every day and still six million Afghans were living as refugees outside the country.

Seven politicians including former National Security Adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar have registered their names to stand for presidency and incumbent President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani was expected to register his name by Sunday, reports said.