Afghanistan’s peace jirga, and an unofficial translation of its declaration
Afghanistan’s latest consultations peace jirga concluded recently in Kabul. The jirga was seen as flawed by some individuals and groups who refused to attend, including the main electoral opposition to Karzai’s government, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. Some who attended and those who didn’t complained that, overall, the jirga’s participants were hand-picked by supporters of Karzai and did not fairly represent the people of Afghanistan, nor its elite. Despite this, strong voices of opposition to the existing government policies did emerge, suggesting a change of course in strengthening the Afghan state and people. The Afghanistan Analysts Network blog covers this, also explaining how the government run jirgas tend to vary from traditional ones in which attendance is more open and discussion also open-ended.
Afghan analyst, Abdulhadi Hairan has translated the jirga’s 15 point declaration and published it on his site. Some highlights include political reconciliation, government reform and accountability, the release of prisoners unjustly accused, a request for long-term international support to the government, and condemnation of the Israeli attack on the aid flotilla to Gaza:
2) To initiate a peace process, in accordance with the decisions from this jirga, the government should establish a holistic program and announce that program as the permanent national strategy for peace.
[…]5) We urge all the conflicting parties to give up their preconditions that hinder the peace talks.
[…]7) […]We urge the Afghan government and the international forces in Afghanistan to take a serious and immediate step towards releasing those prisoners arrested on false reports or not charged as goodwill gesture. With developing an understanding with the international community, the government should act fast in removing the insurgents’ names from the blacklists. The government and the international forces should provide guarantee for the protection and security of those who are joining the peace process and help them to safely reintegrate in the society. The Afghan and international forces are seriously asked to stop unnecessary arrests, arbitrary and uncoordinated house searches, and the air strikes that cause civilian casualties. The government should seriously take steps for leading the military operations and coordinate with the international forces. The armed insurgents should give up violence and stop all the activities that lead to the killing of our dear countrymen and the damaging of its infrastructure, and cut their ties with Al Qaeda and the regional terrorist networks.
[…]We would like long term international commitments to protect Afghanistan from becoming a playground of regional conflicts, so the foreign infiltrations are blocked and the regional cooperation is coordinated.
[…]The government with the cooperation from the people should act for improving governance and professionalism, fight against corruption, and act against people who have seized lands in the capital as well as in the provinces.
[…]11) […] The council should form a special committee to have access to the prisoners, release them, and reintegrate them into the society.
[…]16) At the end, the National Consultative Peace Jirga as a representative of the Afghan people strongly condemns the inhumane attack by Israeli army carried out on the convoy of aid groups that was on its way to Gaza Bank where poor Palestinians are besieged.