By Irfanullah Mateen
The term Loya Jirga has a long historical root in Afghan culture and traditions which literally means Grand Council. For centuries, it has been held to bring together the people of various ethnicities, religions and tribes to; appoint/oust kings; approve/amend a constitution; declare a war and many other social, economic and political reforms.
According to the constitution of Afghanistan, Loya Jirga shall be convened to decide upon important matters of the country such as, issues related to independence, national sovereignty, territorial integrity as well as supreme national interests, amendments in the constitution and impeachment of the president.
As far as the peace talks are concerned, Mr. President has called to convene the Loya Jirga to decide upon the fate of 400 Taliban’s inmates. According to the Government, they are involved in many felonies and vandalisms and their fate shall be decided by the members of Loya Jirga. At the meantime, releasing these prisoners is one of the prerequisites of Taliban for the intra-afghan peace talks.
Now, is it not a waste of time and resource to organize a Loya Jirga for a pre-decided matter?
Going further, at the time of the peace deal between the US Govt. and the Taliban, it was decided that the Afghan Government shall set free 5000 Taliban’s prisoners and in the opposite, the Taliban will hand over 1000 captured Afghan security forces to the Government as well as tapering off the violence against one another to pave the path for the intra-afghan peace dialogue. At the beginning, according to what was agreed, both parties started releasing one another’s prisoners. The Govt. freed 4,600 prisoners of the Taliban while the Taliban handed over 1000 captured Afghan security force. The tenure was also witnessing a decrease in violence from the Taliban. But when suddenly the Government announced that they will not release the remaining 400 Taliban’s inmates, the violence escalated back by the Taliban against Afghan security forces. According to Zabiullah Mujahid, the official spokesman of the Taliban, the Taliban will resume launching their attacks on Afghan security forces in response to the recent decision made by the Govt. Now, any delay in the intra-afghan peace talks will result in the increase of violence in Afghanistan.
Furthermore, the Govt. has never consulted with any Afghan Govt. official while releasing the previous 4,500 Taliban prisoners, but now they want to organize a Loya Jirga for the remaining 400 inmates. I believe, this is a tactic used by the President Ashraf Ghani to delay the peace process and carry on his Government. But he is not considering the heavy causalities inflicted on the Afghan security forces and civilians every day.
I believe, every life matters, and every citizen of this country has a right to live a peaceful life in this country. Thus, Mr. President shall give priority to the people over his ambitions. Still, if any consultation is needed in this matter, the best way to save the time and at the meantime reach an optimal result would be taking the consensus of the Senate and the House of Representatives. They also represent the people of Afghanistan and their agreement would be sufficient to decide upon releasing the remaining 400 Taliban prisoners to start intra-afghan peace dialogue as soon as possible.