By Farhad Naibkhel
KABUL: A number of Afghan leaders and influential figures including former President Hamid Karzai, Jihadi leaders, speakers of parliament’s two Houses (Wolesi Jirga, and Meshrano Jirga) attended the first meeting of the leadership committee of High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), where they stressed the need for the urgent end to the hostility as well as consensus among political leaders to move the peace efforts toward.
The HCNR held its maiden meeting at the Presidential Palace on Saturday in the wake of strong pushes from different quarters regarding the complete formation and operation of the body.
Addressing the meeting, President Ashraf Ghani said that Taliban are the reality and the Afghan politicians, and the government of Afghanistan and society accept them as a veracity of the society.
“The time has gone to reject or deny you,” President Ghnai said in his clear message to the Taliban, a group the Afghan government is seeking peace with. He called on the Taliban to also accept the current reality of Afghan society.
“You won’t surrender nor do we, war doesn’t have a winner and its continuation is an easy task, but the main courage is to work for peace and its winner is the nation of Afghanistan,” President Ghani added.
They (Taliban) should think that the last six generations suffered the brunt of war and we all should come together to heal wounds of the six generations and this is the responsibility of all not only the responsibility of the government and nation of Afghanistan, he added.
The Afghan nation has consensus on peace, according to President Ghani. “If the Taliban continue to take their lives through violence, or threaten and insult them on a daily basis, then such consensus will diminish.”
The Taliban must realize that they lose nothing if node for a ceasefire. “The Afghan government and the nation promise to negotiate seriously with you (Taliban), so don’t fear a ceasefire.”
The ball is now on the Taliban ground to make a decision. “My wish from the Taliban is to show political will in order to go from symbolic rhetoric toward main agendas in the second round of the talks.”
Progress has been made in the talks, but it is important to take advantage from the current opportunity, the president added.
Former President, Hamid Karzai has called the meeting of the Leadership Committee of HCNR a very important step toward. “Out of official structure, I will spare no efforts to help and cooperate with the council in the aspect of the peace process,” the former President promised.
According to him, peace is a dream for all the Afghans. “We, the Afghans have suffered a lot during the war; therefore, we will strive hard to reach our noble cause for peace.”
“Indeed, efforts will translate into results when we all work with unity and rising voices from a strong and brotherly-hood position.”
We and the Taliban are from this soil, ex-President said, adding “it’s our duty to end the Afghan killings and get control of our affairs.”
Alliance and unity is the only way that leads us to success, he mentioned.
Pointing to the leadership meeting, the ex-president said that this council needs to be more inclusive and other prominent figures should also be involved.
He appreciated both the negotiating teams (Afghan and Taliban) for reaching primary agreement on the producers. Without Taliban’s cooperation, such progress would have not been possible.
Former President said it is time to expand hands to each other and work toward peace for a peaceful and independent Afghanistan to enjoy good relations with the world and the neighboring countries.
Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the Chairman of HCNR at the inaugural meeting of the Leadership Committee of HCNR said that this committee represents all segments of the society and reflects the diversity of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
He said that the guideline of the HCNR in its efforts to achieve peace is the national interest of the country. We will decide after consultation and fully accommodating the rightful demands of the people of Afghanistan.
He said that peace needs unity, consensus, and inclusivity in words and in action. Peace needs sacrifices, and we are ready to fully engage with the Taliban to discuss all issues.
From now on, the regular meetings of the leadership committee will take place to discuss the peace process. The first demand of the people of Afghanistan is reduction of violence and a permanent ceasefire, he added.
“We have to agree on how to preserve the achievements of the past, and at the same time move forward and have a political settlement. There might be a time that requires the decision of the people of Afghanistan, at that point we shall decide collectively on how to consult the people.”
He said that the people of Afghanistan demand peace, and an end to war, violence and bloodshed. We have to end the war, and open a new peaceful chapter in our country. I do not have any personal agenda in seeking peace. “My aim is a permanent peace in Afghanistan.”
He said that today all Afghans demand is a nationwide ceasefire. As war and its continuation took sacrifices from the people and there is no doubt that they are concerned and their concern is serious.
“Afghan people are the possessor of the peace process and we will try as representatives of different segments to consider their main demands in the process,” he asserted.
Political willingness existed to end war, thus asking all people including those who are living in the area under control of Taliban to play a key role in the process.
We are committed to a just, lasting, and inclusive peace in Afghanistan. “We have the political will, and the support of the people to do so. However, peace doesn’t mean a return to the past. We are seeking a peace that offers a dignified future for everyone, he mentioned.”
He said, “we are calling for a permanent ceasefire. War destroys the country, and everyone, but peace will guarantee a future for everyone. Releasing the Taliban prisoners was a bold step. It demonstrates that the people of Afghanistan are ready for sacrifice if needed.”
Afghanistan to achieve an enduring peace requires international and regional support. “I thank the US, EU, NATO, Islamic countries, IOC, regional countries, and the state of Qatar for supporting the peace process, Afghanistan and hosting the peace talks.”
He thanked the Republic’s negotiation team for their tireless efforts, and representing the republic. “I also thank the Taliban negotiation team for their cooperation. I assure the republic’s negotiation team that they enjoy the full support of the people of Afghanistan, and the HCNR.”
Prominent Jihadi Leader, Ustad Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayaf said that peace is a need and it’s our responsibility than anyone else, including the Taliban group, to bring peace to the nation.
“We must hold efforts to bring a dignified and durable peace, a peace to keep unity among our people in the country,” he added.
While announcing his cooperation in the peace process, he said that besides bringing peace, efforts must be made in terms of standing on our own feet.
He highly praised the Afghan security forces for giving sacrifices in the country.