Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, July 20th, 2019

Kabul: Peace Consultative Jirga Ends with Stress on immediate Ceasefire

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Kabul: Peace Consultative Jirga Ends  with Stress on immediate Ceasefire

The Loy Peace Consultative Jirga (grand traditional meeting) has issued final communiqué after five working days stressing upon nation-wide truce ahead of Ramazan. Nearly 3200 delegates participated from all parts of Afghanistan showing their intense thirst for immediate peace in the country. However, a number of key political figures including Ghani’s own power-sharing CEO Abdullah Abdullah, former president Hamid Karzai, and former Mujahideen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar as well as a number of other politicians and 12 presidential candidates boycotted this session due to different reasons. The participants were divided into 51 committees to give consultation on four pre-determined questions about the Afghan peace talks. The four questions that the delegates consulted on were: How to convince the Taliban for negotiations to end the war and bring peace and stability to the country? On which gains and values should the Afghan government insist during negotiations? According to your point of view, how the government’s negotiation team combination should look like and what characteristics the members should have? What policy the Afghan government should have toward its neighbors, especially the country that supports the Taliban financially and by arms?
On Friday, the Jirga concluded with a 23-article resolution mainly focused on declaration of an immediate ceasefire, launch of intra-Afghan dialogue, opening Taliban office inside Afghanistan, timeline for foreign troop withdrawal, Preserving the Islamic Republic system, national defense and Security Forces, rights of racial and regions groups and also other gains achieved in past two decades. The participant stressed that no sustainable peace is possible without preserving the political and economic interests of the country. “We don’t want such a peace that women’s rights are not respected, freedoms of expression are not ensured, elections are not held,” committee member Faizullah Jalal told the summit.  “Representatives from 34 provinces and also some members of the Jirga should be included in the negotiation team with Taliban. Its members should not have dual citizenship, and thirdly, the delegates should be from different groups such as war victims, elites, women, politicians, civil society and youths,” said Masooma Hussaini, head of another committee.
The delegates of Jirga called on Taliban to stop violence, embrace peace and participate in the development of the country. They called the Taliban there is no winner in war and no loser in peace; for practical steps asked for the exchange of prisoners to establish an environment of trust. Emphasizing on Afghan-led peace process, the resolution further states that the international community must coordinate its peace efforts with the Afghan government. The formation of an inclusive negotiating team and reforms in the structure and activities of Afghan High Peace Council have also been proposed in the resolution of Peace Jirga delegates.
Addressing the closing ceremony of the Grand Consultative Jirga, President Ashraf Ghani said the Afghan government is ready to implement all recommendations mentioned in the Peace Jirga’s resolution. He said the Afghan government is ready to announce a ceasefire if the Taliban show readiness in this regard.  He urged the Taliban to show respect toward the recommendations for peace proposed by participants of the meeting. “I call on the Taliban to prepare for direct negotiations [for peace]. Ghani added: “I want to say to the Taliban that the choice is now in your hands.” We are ready to create an enabling environment for these negotiations,” he said. President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani also announced the release of 175 Taliban prisoners as an apparent gesture of goodwill towards the peace process. President Ghani called on Taliban to send a delegation to receive the prisoners in Kabul or any other province.
In other parts of his speech, President Ghani thanked NATO, the United States, EU, Germany, Japan, India, Iran, Indonesia, and other friend countries for their support to Afghanistan and the Afghan peace process. Ghani promised that the Afghan government will implement all recommendations mentioned in Peace Jirga delegates’ resolution. On the other side, there was no immediate response from the Taliban, who currently are negotiating in separate talks with a US peace envoy in Qatar. The insurgent group has so far refused to even speak with Ghani, who they view as an American stooge.
However, in response to Khalilzad’s tweet, the Taliban asked him to stop calling on Taliban militants to lay down their arms and convince the United States to end the use of force instead. “In our opening session, I underscored to the Talibans that the Afghan people, who are their brothers & sisters, want this war to end,” Khalilzad said in a tweet. “It is time to put down arms, stop the violence, & embrace peace.” In response to this, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a series of sharp tweets saying you should forget about the idea of putting down our arms,”. “Instead of such fantasies, he should drive the idea home (to the U.S.) about ending the use of force and incurring further human and financial losses for the decaying Kabul administration.”He said the United States must stop repeating failed strategies while expecting different outcomes.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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