Afghanistan Considers Amnesty for Past Conflicts The Afghan parliament has approved a bill urging the government to grant amnesty to all Afghans involved in the conflicts of the past quarter century. The bill is sparking outrage among victims of the violence, and in the international community.
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Afghanistan Considers Amnesty for Past Conflicts

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Afghanistan Considers Amnesty for Past Conflicts

Afghanistan Considers Amnesty for Past Conflicts

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DEBBIE ELLIOTT, Host:

NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson has our story from Kabul.

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON: Parliament member Fazil Kadeem Imaf(ph) says it's the bitter price his country had to pay to free itself from the Soviets, the Taliban and warlords. But he's adamant that no one but Afghans should decide whether anything happens to those responsible for the bloodshed.

FAZIL KADEEM IMAF: (Through translator) When the Americans invaded Vietnam, nobody was tried inside America for this act. By this I mean that if we fought in Afghanistan, we have got the right to forgive each other.

SARHADDI NELSON: The lawmaker says the only solution to ending his country's strife is a clean slate for everyone. That includes former Mujahideen like himself, or the Taliban and communists, groups he fought against. So Imaf and other legislators passed a resolution Wednesday that calls for immunity for Afghan participants in this country's violent past, even people with serious blood on their hands. Like Taliban leader Mullah Muhammed Omar, head the ongoing insurgency against the Western-led coalition, or renegade warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whose forces shelled thousands of Afghan civilians during the '90s. Imaf insists the idea isn't to pardon criminals. It's to create a path to peace.

KADEEM IMAF: (Through translator) We wanted to express two messages from this act of ours. One is the national message that is that we support national unity in Afghanistan. And the second is the message with regards to reconciliation.

SARHADDI NELSON: A handful of parliamentarians were so disgusted that they stormed out of the chamber before members held up green or red cards to indicate their vote. Among them was Schukriya Barasay.

SCHUKRIYA BARASAY: It's impossible, it's impossible, it's impossible - even, even, even 50 years from now to close our eyes from what was in the past, to say it was just civil war, was a mistake. No, there's no mistake. There's was no misunderstanding. There was no interfere from any single countries. We are responsible as Afghans.

SARHADDI NELSON: In an interview with NPR at the presidential palace, Karzai said he had not seen the resolution. But he added not everyone deserves forgiveness.

HAMID KARZAI: Reconciliation? Yes. Pardoning of crime is a very different matter. So that's why I hope to see the statement and then make a judgment.

SARHADDI NELSON: Karzai also denied reports that he had offered an olive branch to Taliban leaders on Monday during a speech to Shiite worshippers here.

KARZAI: I spoke about a principle of forgiveness by Imam Hussain and of tolerance and of generosity. It was not a political statement, was not intended for any group or anything like that.

SARHADDI NELSON: Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News, Kabul.

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