By Andrew North
BBC News, Kabul
The Afghan government has approved a plan to investigate allegations of human rights abuses and war crimes committed in the past decades of war.
Recent Afghan history has been marked by almost constant war
Hundreds of thousands of Afghans died during a series of conflicts from 1978 through to the end of Taleban rule.
But until now, the government had resisted calls from both Afghan and international rights groups to look into abuse allegations from this time.
Among those facing such allegations are members of the new parliament.
Officially, the plan is known as the Action Plan for Peace, Reconciliation and Justice in Afghanistan.
It was drawn up by the country's human rights commission, in consultation with international groups earlier this year.
The plan sets out a five point strategy which could lead eventually to a truth and reconciliation body, similar to the one established in South Africa at the end of apartheid, or a full criminal tribunal.
That decision will be up to a five-member task force - three of whom will be appointed by President Hamid Karzai, one by the United Nations and the other by the Afghan human rights commission.
But before that, the plan calls for some kind of remembrance for victims of Afghanistan's wars, detailed information collection, and a process of reconciliation between the various ethnic groups involved in past fighting.
The plan has been watered down - the original called for a tribunal as a matter of course.
But the Afghan human rights commission has welcomed the government's decision, pointing out that the document also rules out giving anyone immunity for past crimes.
It is being seen as a major step.
Despite pressure from many quarters, President Hamid Karzai's government has been resistant. There were fears it could re-open old wounds, and cause renewed turmoil - especially with many of those facing potential war crimes charges now in positions of power, including in the new parliament.
But that was also an incentive to get the plan through - before the assembly holds its first session next week.
But a presidential spokesman denied the plan had been rushed through. He said everyone had been consulted beforehand.
The question now is how long it will take to put this justice and reconciliation plan into action.