The Grand Consultative Jirga on Peace in Afghanistan was started with participation of 3200 delegates from across the country. Thousands of tribal and community elders are taking part in the mammoth gathering that was kicked off amid tight security measures to discuss ways of reaching a lasting peace and end the country’s decades-old war.
Addressing the inauguration ceremony of the Jirga, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s Special Envoy Umer Daudzai said at least 3,200 delegates and 300 guests have attended the event.
“Mr. President, I assure you that every district has delegates in the Jirga,” Daudzai said. “We also asked the Taliban to not stop people and the delegates from attending the Jirga. We thank the Taliban for listening to our call and we call on them to listen to the message of Jirga delegates.”
Daudzai said delegates from Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan have also attended the Peace Jirga. He added that the Peace Jirga was organized in at least 40 days.
Meanwhile, addressing the event, President Ghani said the Jirga will seek ways to end war and violence in the country and that the delegates hope to find Afghanistan’s pathway for at least one century.
“The four days of the Jirga will prove that you, the elected delegates of the nation, are the symbol of power and national unity and you are the owners of willingness, talent, understanding and views and you are hoping for peace and prosperity,” said the president. “The political generation is changing. You, the delegates of all of Afghanistan, are the representatives of the new political generation and trust your judgment,” he said said.
President Ghani said that the nation has expectations from the Jirga delegates and that achieving permanent peace in Afghanistan is his top priority. “Let’s sacrifice small interests for the sake of big interests,” President Ghani told the delegates.
President Ghani said he appreciates the international community’s support to Afghanistan and that the future of the country is the responsibility of Afghans. The President hoped that the Peace Jirga will conclude with a positive result. He added that the delegates are the ambassadors of peace in Afghanistan.
President Ghani reiterated that he wants a peace which will help Afghanistan to develop economically and cut its dependence from foreign aid. He said that he is not in favor of “hasty” agreements on peace and that the Jirga delegates will decide on this.
“We with unprecedented strategies referred to neighboring countries particularly Pakistan that violence was in the interest of no party and Afghanistan could become your good friend but would never enter an unequal partnership,” President Ghani said.
In the past four years, global view regarding peace and reconciliation had changed and for the first time the Imams of Mecca and Medina issued fatwas against violence and killings in Afghanistan and thus a political, regional and international consensus for peace was developed, the president continued.
Meanwhile the president introduced Abdul Rab Rassoul Sayaaf as the chairman of the Loya Jirga.
Addressing the inauguration ceremony, Sayyaf, urged the Taliban not to reject the call for peace. “We will hold consultations on reconciliation. We will bring peace to the country, despite opposition from certain circles,” he said.
In his address, Sayyaf said the jirga would not draw red lines for the Taliban but would continue peace negotiations with them. He said: “We will not create hurdles to the jirga for peace but will provide facilities for lasting peace in the country.”
Sayyaf further added so far non-of the country leaders called Taliban as enemy might they were saying Taliban doing mistakes and door of the nation is open for Taliban, he said. Sayyaf added those boycotting the Loya Jirga were not opposed to peace but there were some issues which would be resolved soon.