By Farhad Naibkhel
KABUL: The Consultative Loya Jirga for Peace with 3,200 delegates in attendance has been inaugurated on Monday in the wake of rejection of many mainstream political parties, influential Afghan figures and twelve electoral tickets. Among participants, 30 percent of them are women, where they discuss the ongoing peace process and also to chalk out redlines in talks with the Taliban. The Jirga will be continued for four days aimed at finding ways to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban to end war in the country. This also aimed at building consensus among various ethnic groups and tribal factions over the constant peace efforts.
President Ashraf Ghani in an opening ceremony said over three thousand Afghans congregated in Loya Jirga bivouac to determine framework and redlines of peace talks with the Taliban.
President Ghani expressed pleasure over participation of 3,200 members from all districts of 34 provinces to represent all segments of Afghan society. He put peace on top of agenda of the government. “All Afghans have pinned hope over this Jirga to reach a durable and lasting peace.”
“Today we are going to listen to an unheard voices of Afghans from all segment of each villages and districts, who participated in this Jirga for peace talks,” Ghani told the Jirga members.
The peace process will remain Afghan-owned and Afghan-lead, Ghani said, insisting not to let be non-Afghani process. He added that Afghan ordinaries have been shouldering the burden of war not elite politicians.
He called on the Taliban not to fear over the peace process. “It’s not matter of strange or related to foreigners, why you (Taliban) are fear from negotiations with the Afghan nation and the government.”
“I want to have lasting peace in Afghanistan and not the shaky or temporary one,” the President said, calling on the Jirga members to guide the government on who to talks with the Taliban in a bid to achieve a durable peace and stability.
In the past four years, global view regarding peace and reconciliation had changed. “For the first time the Imams of Mecca and Medina issued fatwas against violence and killings in Afghanistan and thus a political, regional and international consensus for peace was developed, the president added.
However, two members of Jirga, a woman and a man, were dragged out of the Jirga hall by a group of organizers for rising their criticism.
A prominent Jihadi Leader, Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayyaf has been appointed as Chairman for the Consultative Loya Jirga and he assured during his s speech that this Jirga won’t create barriers ahead of peace process, but it will open ways for the peace. He urged the Taliban not to reject the call for the peace.
“Taliban must realize that they are always welcome by the Afghan nation, and want peace with them with maintaining national interest, national integrity and sovereignty of the country.”
“Government and the Taliban both are following the same religion, then why we are fighting, so let’s set and talk with each other.”
Despite disagreement, peace will come in this country, Sayyaf said, adding the Jirga will provide facilities for lasting peace in the country.
“Even those who boycotted this Jirga are not against peace but there were some issues that marred them from attending the Jirga,” he said, and called on them to patriciate in the last day of Jirga.
Moreover, Chief of the Commission for Organizing the Consultative Loya Jirga, Omar Daudzai said the Jirga will be continued for four days and 3,200 elected members, including 30 percent women participated in the Jirga.
These members are comprised of political figures, tribal elders, parliamentarians, provincial council members, Ulema, civil society members, youths, athletes, war victims, refugees and nomad’s.
Jirga has been convened at a time when a number of Afghan influential figures, politicians and presidential candidates say they will not participate in it, believing it could not resolve anything rather making things complicated in the ongoing peace talks with the Taliban. According to them, Consultative Loya Jirga should have been held six months ago, when the US launched its efforts for peace, and it was better Jirga be convened at the successful conclusion of peace talks.
Twelve presidential electoral teams, and political parties boycotted Consultative Loya Jirga, terming it an election campaign by President Ashraf Ghani.
“I watch with a sense of foreboding the convening of the consultative Loya Jirga today. In insisting on convening the Jirga in the face of opposition from the entire political community in the country, President Ghani has shown arrogance and utter disrespect for public opinion,” Haneef Atmar said, while boycotting the Jirga.
Atmar who is also presidential hopeful, says: “Even if President Ghani had a legitimate reason to call the Jirga, which he doesn’t, or even if the entire country’s view in the matter was misguided, which it cannot be, he still must have listened without intransigence. After all isn’t the very exercise about building consensus?”
Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah who is part of the government, and shares equal rights, he too opposed the Jirga, saying not only him but also his electoral team would not attend the Jirga.
Taliban group also rejected participation in the Jirga, where recently the group was called to take part in it. The Taliban in a statement said that the government is trying to achieve its goals through the Jirga and willing to sabotage the peace process through it. According to statement, Taliban said that while on the one hand, the talks between them and the United States have progressed, and on the other, positive steps have been taken in intra-Afghan talks, the Afghan government through Loya Jirga is trying to sabotage the ongoing peace talks.