Jirga members call for immediate ceasefire
175 Taliban prisoners to be freed as a goodwill gesture
Taliban reject Jirga’s resolution as “symbolic” and “failure”
By Farhad Naibkhel
KABUL: A huge peace gathering under “Consultative Loya Jirga for Peace” aimed at finding an exit from ongoing deadly war ended on Friday with at least 3,200 delegates from across the country included their demands in a 23-Article resolution.
The Jirga was kicked off on Monday lasted for five days, in which religious and tribal leaders, politicians and representatives gathered under one umbrella of Jirga to try find common ground and discuss possible conditions for peace deal with the Taliban.
The resolution called for immediate ceasefire—a comprehensive one—between the Afghan security forces and the Taliban as well as speedy conduction of intra-Afghan talks. The government announced releasement of 175 Taliban prisoners as goodwill gesture.
Members of 50 committees who remained loyal beside Jirga’s conclusion to work for durable peace, have called on Taliban to give heed to the voices come out from Jirga to stop enmity, instead take part in rehabilitation of their homeland.
They also asked both the government and the Taliban group to announce immediate and durable ceasefire during holy month of Ramadan in order to build trust and pave ground for peace process.
The Jirga called on government, Taliban and the Ulema to make a unified view of Islam in order to maintain the national unity. The resolution strongly backed the Islamic Republic system, saying this must be preserved.
They also called on warring parties and countries involved in the peace process to come up to the fore to pave a suitable ground to open Taliban political office inside the country “Afghanistan”.
Besides protection of Islamic Republic system, they sought backing Constitution which is a national value that must be protected. However, they said in some cases amendment in Constitution is acceptable through law and that once peace agreement has reached.
Not only rights of the citizens to be protected based on constitution, they also called for safeguarding and strengthening of the Afghan security forces during peace process.
They called for protection of past achievements and also seeking responsible withdrawal of foreign troops to be ensued in close coordination with the international community.
Moreover, political parties and national figures asked to create national and internal political consensus in a bid to go into negotiation with Taliban from a strong standpoint. The resolution termed regional and world consensus on Afghan peace process a very much crucial but that should be in coordination with the government.
It also demanded government to consider good neighboring policy in peace negotiation, and lodge protest to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) if there is any interference by any neighboring country into internal affairs of Afghanistan.
50-member delegates to carry peace talks with Taliban should assign that includes all segments from political parties to tribesmen, Ulemas, nomads, media members, civil societies and refugee representatives, the resolution demanded. They also called for reform in High Peace Council (HPC) body to bolster up peace activities.
Furthermore, members in resolution asked government to recognize Taliban’s legitimate and rational demands and act upon it practically to facilitate and accelerate the peace process.
They also called on government, Taliban, international community, regional countries and other stakeholders in Afghan conflict to respect the right demands of Afghan people and should take this Jirga’s consultation honestly and go for it to bring peace in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, addressing the closing ceremony of the Jirga, President Mohammad Ashraf assured implementation of all recommendations mentioned in the Peace Jirga’s resolution. “This resolution is a roadmap and operational program for the government,” President Ghani said, referring the resolution that contents ingredients to which peace talks be held with the Taliban.
“Following Jirga’s consultation, I am ready to go for ceasefire but it should not one sided. If the Taliban is ready, I am ready for it,” the President said.
As a goodwill gesture, President Ghani said to release 175 Taliban prisoners, calling on Taliban to send their delegation to Kabul or elsewhere across Afghanistan to hand over their released prisoners.
“We don’t want youths of this country to be divided under name of government and Taliban,” President Ghani said, adding “we must be one Afghan.”
The president called on Taliban to stand ready for negation inside the country. “We are ready to cooperate in opening office to them (Taliban), anywhere inside Afghanistan.”
Fighting under any pretext will bring adversity, he added, saying it’s up to them (Taliban) whether to be part of development or prosperity of the nation or creating grief and sadness.
President Ghani appreciated foreign countries such as China, US, Moscow, Australia, European Countries and others for supporting and assisting Afghanistan.
Hinting toward Pakistan, President Ghani said the government wants a good relation with mutual respect.
“I call upon Pakistan to join us in envisioning a relationship reflecting the aspirations emanating from hearts of our nations not operation rooms of our intelligence services,” President Ghani added.
However, the Taliban group rejected calls for a truce, which the Loya Jirga suggest to be kicked off on beginning of holy month of Ramadan, which terms the decision of Jirga to no avail.
In a statement, the Taliban said waging war during month of Ramadan had even more rewards with terming Loya Jirga a symbolic and a failure move.
Chairperson of Loya Jirga, Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayyaf called on Taliban to keep away rancor and welcome the nation voices, which is for end to the war. He also called for internal unity among political elites which is effective over peace talks.
According to him, no one is against peace, thus efforts for peace should be raised from one unique address.
Moreover, the Jirga for Peace has faced criticism by some critics, members of the public and even by a number of its delegations.
Some delegates said that the election of heads of the committees was not done through a transparent process.
“Every committee had 51 members and from 51 members, almost 48 members of (some) committees were from one province and they elected the head and secretary of the committees through an engineered process,” said Salima Haidari, a delegate was quoted by TOLONews, as saying.
“Balance was not ensured in the number of delegates invited from the provinces,” said Zuhal Yusufi, a delegate.
Gul Mohammad Tawhidi, a delegate who was taken out of the Jirga hall on the first day of the event during President Ghani’s speech, said the consultative Jirga was a “symbolic” event.
“Elections were held in the committees, but division (of delegates into committees) was not in our control and was done in advance,” said Tawhidi.
Furthermore, the election proved controversial after oppositions and presidential candidates slammed it as an election campaign event for president Ghani.
A large number of political parties and influential figures boycotted Jirga, where Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah were those. Former President Hamid Karzai, Haneef Attmar, along with eleven other presidential hopefuls refused to attend Jirga that diminish credibility of it to a big way.