CRITICS WARN POLITICAL RIFTS ARE PERILOUS FOR PEACE PROCESS
On the threshold of the intra-Afghan negotiations, concerns are on the rise among politicians over the political disagreements between President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, the head of High Council for National Reconciliation on issues of national interests including their efforts to sort out the structure of the peace council.
Afghan politicians said that while the people wait impatiently to see the start of the peace talks between the team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban, there isn't a unified stance on peace within the government in Kabul.
The politicians warned that a continued disunity between Ghani and Abdullah would have severe implications for peace in the country.
“The continuation of this situation will only lead to further miseries among our people. Neither Dr. Ghani nor Dr. Abdullah will be affected from it,” said Sayed Ishaq Gailani, the head of the National Solidarity Movement of Afghanistan.
“If the government of Afghanistan continues the same path, perhaps the Taliban become the winners because they have a unifired stance and strong team,” said Iqbal Khyber, a peace activist.
Critics questioned Abdullah Abdullah for not finalizing the members of the reconciliation council.
“They took a lot of time to announce the council. Based on the agreement, it was the authority of Abdullah Abdullah to announce it a bit early,” said Tamim Nuristani, member of Mehwar political movement.
“If we don't have an inclusive high council for national reconciliation, this will have negative impacts,” said Shahzada Massoud, a political analyst in Kabul.
Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who has opposed his membership in the reconciliation council said that those included in the structure of the council were all government officials and that it would be difficult to reach an agreement with the Taliban with the present council.
On August 29, Ghani in a decree approved 46 members of the High Council for National Reconciliation, which is led by Abdullah Abdullah, thus taking a major step towards preparing for the imminent intra-Afghan talks.
Two days later, Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, issued a statement and opposed Ghani’s decree officially listing members of the council, saying that according to the political agreement it is the authority of the head of the council to appoint its members.
Who are the 46 members?
The members of the council announced in the decree are former president Hamid Karzai, former mujahideen leader Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf, Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, former vice president Mohammad Karim Khalili, former deputy chief executive Mohammad Mohaqiq, former vice president Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum, former vice president Mohammad Yunus Qanooni, former foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani, former mujahideen leader and former minister of energy and water Mohammad Ismalil Khan, former Balkh governor and CEO of Jamiat-e-Islami Atta Mohammad Noor, head of Maaz-e-Milli party Sayed Hamid Gailani, Zabihullah Mujaddedi, political and religious figure Sayed Mansoor Nadery, political and religious figure Enayatullah Shahrani, former deputy chief executive and political figure Engineer Mohammad Khan, head of Afghanistan’s Ulema Council, former head of the Administrative Office of the President Sadiq Modabir, Mohammad Ismail Ghazanfar and Mawlawi Khodaidad Saleh.
According to the decree, members of the council from the government are First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danesh, Acting Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar, National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib, Meshrano Jirga Speaker Fazl Hadi Muslimyar, Wolesi Jirga Speaker Mir Rahman Rahmani, presidential adviser Almas Zahid, state minister for peace affairs (that has not been appointed so far) and presidential advisor Mawlawi Jora Tahiri.
Women members of the council are civil society activist Safia Sediqqi, former MP Najiba Ayubi, a member of the Afghan Women’s Network Mari Akrami, civil society activist Zia Gul Rezaee, member of the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission Alia Yulmaz, former higher education minister Farida Mohmand, chairperson of medical council of Afghanistan Nasrin Oryakhil and civil society activist Zarqa Yaftali.
According to the decree, the leadership members of the council are Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdul Salam Rahimi deputy head of the council, Enayatullah Farahmand deputy head of the council, Asadullah Saadati deputy head of the council, Zuhra Mutahari former deputy governor of Paktia, member of Afghanistan Ulema Council Atta-Ur-Rahman Salim, head of Hizb-e-Islami Nawin Din Mohammad, political figure Akram Khpulwak, head of negotiation team Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, special presidential envoy Noor-Ul-Haq Olumi.
Former president Hamid Karzai, Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Salahuddin Rabbani, the head of Jamiat-e-Islami were among the key politicians who rejected membership of the council.