Civil Society Coordination Centre’s strategy for lasting peace

Create: 04/28/2015 - 16:35

KABUL (Pajhwok): Led by the United States, international troops came to Afghanistan in 2001. Against popular aspirations and promises from world leaders, stability remains evasive. Unfortunately, the situation has been progressively deteriorating with each passing day and the conflicting taking on a more destructive form. Although some domestic and foreign circles insist on a military solution, we believe:
1. If the conflict had been resolvable militarily, we would have made progress toward stability in the past 11 years. But we see, the reverse is true;
2. The international community’s commitment to Afghanistan seems shaky, as most NATO nations are looking for pulling out their troops due to domestic pressures and economic constraints. Some of them have already withdrawn their military personnel;
3. The Afghan government is not yet self-reliant and its security forces are unable to win the ongoing conflict on their own, or bring peace to the country. If enough peace work is not done in the presence of foreign forces, the war is likely to take on a wider dimension. A new round of civil strife cannot be ruled out; and
4. The real victim of war is the nation and the price we are paying is much higher than what the warring parties calculate.
In the given circumstances, the best option is that a basic peace mechanism be evolved in the presence of international troops. Encourage steps need to be taken to implement the proposed strategy. All concerns about the peace process are not valid, but should not be ignored while such a mechanism is developed:
A – Absent solid international guarantees and support, the peace process will spark yet another round of factionalism and fragmentation as we saw in 1988, once again pushing the country into a civil war;
B – If practical guarantees of support for the peace effort are not sought from neighbours, they will start fanning turf wars;
C – The warring parties will sabotage the reconciliation campaign and the government will collapse from within;
D – In the peace process, the public will could be ignored and Afghanistan’s interests compromised for a regional rapprochement; and
E - Social freedoms and citizen’s rights will be trampled on and relative achievements undone.
Keeping in view Afghanistan’s supreme national interest, we would like to suggest the following means of strengthening just peace in the country:
1. Mere political ethics do not suffice to keep promises, something that can be done by force. In case of a peace deal, the global fraternity should monitor the process until its completion. If the armed opposition does not accept a limited NATO military presence, troops from non-NATO countries could come to Afghanistan under UN auspices. Even soldiers from neutral non-aligned Muslim countries such as Indonesia, Egypt and Bangladesh could be deployed to Afghanistan.
2. All threats to the peace process be eliminated, all irresponsible armed groups operating under different names abolished and Afghan security forces freed of political influence.
3. Genuine representatives of the people, government and rebel groups, outfits that could threaten peace, international community, neighbouring countries and other influential nations should participate in the process.
4. If desired by the government and its political opposition, the High Pace Council can push ahead with its mission as a representative body.The council could conduct a reintegration exercise, but it cannot play a mediatory role in peace talks.
5. The national interest, basic human rights and social liberties be protected and guaranteed by all sides.
6. Neighbours be assured that their genuine interests will not be harmed as a result of reconciliation.
7. To ensure satisfactory public representation and protection of civil rights, civil society should join the peace process and even sponsor reconciliation talks on its own, and with international support.
- A national conference involving civil society organisations be called to discuss the peace process. In consonance with the Afghan tradition, civil society -- considering the relevance of tribal elders, religious scholars, security forces and other appropriate forums -- should constitute a national commission to conduct the peace parleys.
- Afghan civil society leaders should forge coordination with their regional counterparts on seeking their support for the peace drive. The job can be better done by organising a conference of regional civil society groups.
- The peace commission should open talks with the Afghan government, opposition parties, global fraternity and the insurgents. Chances of negotiations with the militants are brighter now that the rebels also have a political address outside Pakistan.
- If the global community, the government and its armed opposition reach an agreement, a national peace conference be organised under UN supervision. Civil society will act as a facilitator.
- The conference line of action, agenda and mechanism be finalised in consultation with the parties concerned.
An environment of trust be created in the build-up to the national conference. Blacklists be abolished and propaganda halted. As a token of good intentions, prisoners be released and a ceasefire enforced, If necessary, insurgent leaders be given political office in Kabul to facilitate the negotiations.
Talks with should not be linked to the unconditional surrender of weapons by the rebels. The militants’ demands that are not in conflict with the national interest or people’s rights be considered. We insist the following constitutionally guaranteed basic rights and liberties should not be compromised:
1. Article 2 of the Constitution detailing citizens’ rights;
2. Freedom of expression and media, as well as the right of access to information;
3. Women’s rights, particularly their right to education;
4. Political pluralism;
5. Formation of legislative and executive branches through direct democratic elections;
6. Independence and neutrality of the judiciary
Additionally, the peace process should preclude the agenda of general amnesty, which may hamper the prosecution of war crimes and transitional justice in future.
- The agreements reached at the national peace conference should be upheld by the world, Afghanistan’s neighbours and others involved at a subsequent international event, in which a mechanism of support should also be evolved and responsibilities of all sides explained and guaranteed.
- The national peace conference should decide when a Loya Jirga be convened and what for; when elections should be held and under whose supervision.
The views expressed in this article don’t necessarily reflect Pajhwok’s policy.