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Influential Afghan figures reject participation in Jirga

Loya Jirga better be convened at successful conclusion of peace talks

Govt. lobbying for upcoming presidential polls in Jirga; It’s an electoral campaign

Twelve electoral tickets boycotted Jirga; See no justifiable reason for it

Taliban termed Jirga a dramatic effort; Govt. sabotaging peace process 

AT News Report

KABUL: A number of Afghan influential figures, politicians and presidential candidates say they will not participate in today’s (Monday) Consultative Peace Jirga, believing it could not resolve anything rather making things complicated in the ongoing peace talks with the Taliban.

Many of them termed peace priori to Jirga, but emphasized that Jirga is last and ultimate mean for addressing issues, but says it is not right time to have it.

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.

At least 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.

In the meantime, reports doing round that Mohammad Karim Khalil who is part of Abdullah’s electoral team, will not participate in Jirga,

 “Considering that half of the government, prominent political parties, political lead ers and presidential candidates are not attending, the Afghan people can judge where the Jirga’s legitimacy is,” Fraidoon Khwazoon

spokesman for Abdullah’s Office said.

The leader of Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar also boycotted the Jirga as a various prominent political leaders have already boycotted the gathering, citing it as a move by the government to lobby for the upcoming presidential elections rather raising voices for reconciliation.

Sources close to Hekmatyar have confirmed that the leader of Hezb-e-Islami will not participate in the gathering.

Omar Zakhilwal, who worked in many high government posts, including ex-ambassador to Pakistan, said that the fundamental prerequisite for peace will have to be the display of national unity and national consensus. “Loya Jirgas are convened precisely for that purpose. When the convening itself becomes divisive how can we expect it to be a mean for national unity/consensus Loya Jirga is our last and ultimate mean for addressing issues of the highest national importance and Peace certainly is that.

“However, we must avoid situations that harm this revered institution and last resort. Under the circumstances the “Consultative Loya Jirga”, perhaps because of its timing or management or both, may not only severely damage the prospect for peace but also harm the institution of the Loya Jirga irreparably.”

Taliban group also rejected participation in the Jirga, where recently the group was called to take part in it, where the participants—30 percent of them women, would elucidate red lines in the talks with Taliban.

The Taliban in a statement said that the government is trying to achieve its goals through the Jirga and welling 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.

In the wake of opposition by many high-profile Afghans President Ashraf Ghani’s Special Envoy Umer Daudzai said delaying Loya Jirga is not possible as all delegates have arrived in Kabul from across the country to attend the “first ever” big gathering.

According to him, the Jirga will provide the ground for peace and that it will not create any hurdle for the process.

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