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Editorial: The HPC project

In 2010 the Peace Jirga suggested formation of a body to settle the disputes and wrangles. It was seen as the only and best solution to reconcile with the militants and bring peace and stability back to the country. The body was formed and called High Peace Council. It was seen as the only ray of hope amid despair and chaos. The project which was also supported by the international community had been caught in controversies since its establishment. The donations failed to help the council to stand on its own feet and perform well. The HPC project has lost credibility as Afghan people are not happy with its performance.

According to a survey report of the Afghanistan Institute of Strategic Studies published on March 14, most of respondents underlined the HPC as a symbolic body crippled by corruption and mismanagement.  Foreign interference, lack of public support and authority are the other issues which pushed the peace body deep in mist of uncertainty. Peace has become illusive as not only the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) failed to prepare ground for reconciliation but the Afghan peace body also. HPC’s existence has become a question especially after statement of its spokesman regarding foreign influence and sincerity of the key members. A spokesman for the High Peace Council, Mawlavi Shahzada Shahid, on Tuesday told TOLOnews that funding for 2,400 HPC projects has been embezzled and that key members of the council are being paid by foreign embassies.

The allegations do not end here. Shahid claimed that a high-ranking official who was working at the peace council and now at the defense ministry was receiving $10,580 from a foreign embassy in Kabul. According to the spokesman, the HPC has signed an advertising campaign agreement, worth $3.5 million, with a private television channel. The spokesman said that the council has been hijacked by influential figures or members. He also expressed concerns over absence of the HPC’s officials in the QCG meetings. These allegations are of serious nature and cannot be ignored. The government shall clear its stance. Those sitting in the power corridors shall separate white from the black to restore public trust. If the leaders do not show response then the HPC would become the biggest scandal in Afghanistan’s history. The government is also accountable to tell the nation that why double agents are included in the HPC. Why some members of the council are getting salary from the government and foreign embassies at the same time?

Likewise, Mawlavi Shahid should satisfy the inquisitive minds by answering a fundamental question that why he was not giving such statement one or two years ago. Why now? Does timing matter? Of course. The government has vowed to bring reforms in the peace body.  Total strength of the HPC is around 150. From 50 up to 60 members will lose their jobs due to the reforms process. The downsizing has worried many. Therefore, transparent investigation is need of the hour.

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