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Showing posts from June, 2010

Sacrificing women's rights to secure peace will leave us back where we were 10 years ago

"If the conflict is to be wound down, real compromises will have to be made on the constitution, women's rights and civil liberties." These are the words of an editorial comment in Afghan Scene, a magazine written by and mainly for the international community in Afghanistan.After years of fierce fighting and numerous counterinsurgency initiatives, the Afghan government and some of its international allies seem to have reached to the peak of desperation. They are now even exploring whether Afghan women's rights can be sacrificed in order to declare "mission accomplished".The idea of subsuming women's rights so that the war can end has come in formal and informal talks between some parliamentarians, government officials and is also reported to be part of cynical discussions among some of the international diplomats in Kabul gatherings.Many women activists believe the growing Talibanisation of the Afghan government will not only bring further instability, …

Quick Justice: Peace Jirga and political settlements in Afghanistan

The Afghan Peace Jirga convened a 16-article declaration at the end of the three-days consultation on the Afghanistan's Peace and Re-integration Program Plan. One of the recommendations from the declaration was :
“We ask the Afghan state and the international forces present in Afghanistan to, for the purpose of showing goodwill, take immediate and serious action in terms of releasing all those who serve in different jails based on unreliable reports and unproved accusations.”
And for the first time in its 10 years history, the Afghan government took immediate action as requested. The President issued a decree on June 5, 2010 and castigated a Commission to review the cases of the prisoners who were held under the national security threats law and based on the reports from local media, so far at least 15 men have been already released from Parwan ( formerly known as Bagram) and another detention center of the foreign forces in Darulaman of Kabul province.
While this gesture of good wil…

The Sun in the Sky

"The Sun in the Sky" is a discussion paper by Matt Waldman, published by Crisis States Research Center of the London School of Economics. The report is a product of months-long research and interviews with Taliban commanders and intermediaries in the most volatile provinces of Afghanistan, that is often rare for any foreign journalist and researcher. Hence, I also think Waldman should be appreciated for operationalizing the assertions and alleges on Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to an important extent.
At least Afghans who are aware of their history do not need any academic scrutiny to prove that the Taliban and insurgency in Afghanistan are the creation of ISI. The Afghanistan National Directorate of Security (NDS) have always provided the evidence of ISI's back up to the suicide bombers and insurgents sent towards Kabul from Pakistan's NWFP or North and South Waziristan. While many journalists including Ahmed Rashid and Steve Coll have written books on…

Will the Afghan government's reintegration and reconciliation efforts bring peace to Afghanistan?
The West Asia Program is a launching a new series of occasional papers entitled ‘Afghan Voices’. The goal of this series is to inject a range of Afghan views into the discussion of issues surrounding the international community’s intervention in Afghanistan.
The series is edited by Dr Susanne Schmeidl, co-founder of TheLiaison Office (TLO) in Afghanistan. She has worked on Afghanistan since 2000 and managed the Swisspeace office in Kabul between 2002 and 2005.
In the first paper in the series, Wazhma Frogh examines, against the background of the recent ‘Peace Jirga’, the highly contentious issues of reintegration and reconciliation with the insurgency. She argues that unless the Afghan government enagages in a more comprehensive and sustainable effort to address the various cause of conflict in Afghanistan than it is currently undertaking, the prospects for a real and enduring peace and security will remain dim. Download item (314KB)

What does the resignation of two important men tell us about Afghan government?

The legacies of the Afghan Peace Jirga didn’t turn out to be peaceful. Just days after the Jirga Declaration, the Afghan government issued an abrupt decree to reopen and review the current Taliban prisoners cases of Taliban prisoners and its Minister of Interior and Chief of National Directorate of Security announced their resignations within the same day.
While both the officials explained the rationale for their resignation as dissatisfaction of the president on the lack of security arrangements during the Peace Jirga that allowed the militants to launch rocket attacks, and suicide bombing in close proximities of the Peace Jirga venue. But Afghan critics see the situation much more complex and different.
This is the first time in the past 9 years of the Afghan government to see such high profile officials resign over lack of effectiveness and responsiveness to the requirements of their jobs, especially when both men, are considered to be the most competent and qualified members of th…

PEACE JIRGA BLOG 10: The Afghan Peace Jirga, where peace means politics

Civil society activist Wazhma Frogh reports on the outcome of the jirga and what this means for the men and women of Afghanistan, and for the prospects of peace and justice.If there was a nationwide consultation in Afghanistan, there would not be anyone opposing the concept of Peace. Therefore, the main discussion is not about whether consensus was reached on peace in general, but on how to come to terms with peace and how to achieve it. The orchestrated show of this jirga was a way to legitimize the unjust means towards what is being claimed as peace.On Wednesday when the Peace Jirga begun, there were mixed messages in the President’s opening speech and his words seemed more an advocacy campaign. His message to the 1600 delegates from 34 provinces of Afghanistan was full of emotional appeal. But in the evening of Friday, the president had a full plate of legitimacy, support and back up from some of the most powerful men in Afghanistan and that made him very confident. He didn’t see t…

PEACE JIRGA: First day

PEACE JIRGA (GUEST) BLOG 7: The first day of the peace jirgaChevening Scholar (International Development Law and Human Rights) and civil society activist, Wazhma Frogh, reports on the first day of the Afghanistan Peace Jirga.As expected, hundreds of turbaned and bearded men who have made very critical contributions to the current plight and misery of Afghanistan, arrived in the grand assembly tent of Kabul, a place with tremendous political symbolism. In the past 9 years many significant political struggles, from the Interim Grand Assembly to the Constitution Loya Jirga to the electoral campaigns took place in this tent, located at the polytechnic faculty of Kabul.
At the end of the first day of the long awaited Jirga, there are still questions about the ambiguity of the agenda, the lack of clarity on the government views pertaining to talks with the Taliban and other militants, and the (mis)representation of the various groups and parties.
The Jirga commenced with speeches, was interr…

The first day of the Afghanistan Peace Jirga

After many delays and rescheduling, finally the Afghan Peace Consultative Jirga convened in Kabul today with around 16oo of representatives from across the country. They included government officials, religious leaders, civil society groups, women activists, the Jihadi faction leaders and members of the diplomatic enclave from neighboring and members of the international community. Representatives from Iran and Pakistan too were invited to participate in a three-day Jirga to shape the government's policy pertaining to the talks with the Taliban and other militants.
The Jirga had just began, and President Karzai was in the preliminary stages of his speech, that the sound of bombings and rockets created fear and terror among the participants. When the second rocket was heard, which was quiet near the tent, many of the participants stood up and wanted to flee, but the humourous motivations of the President, encouraged them to stay and continue. Some main points from the president'…

Afghan Peace Jirga: Another political drama

While millions of Afghans are starving of chronic food insecurity, thousands of children sleeping on the streets of Kabul every night, and millions living with the terror of insurgency and corruption, the Peace consultative Jirga will take place this week at the cost of millions of dollars aimed at improving the living conditions of Afghans. Around 1600 delegates arrived in the spacious Grand Assembly tent in Kabul and with over 300 women representatives. The Afghan government aims to solicit national support for its mysterious Re-integration and Reconciliation Plan introduced at the Afghanistan London Conference earlier this year. While the Jirga seeks national consensus and support from the Afghans, many on the streets see it as a ‘drama and show off’ only.
As the new elected government is in its 6th month, the fate of half of its cabinet is unknown. Or better to say that half of the government structure is dysfunctional. The concept of service provision has turned into merely a poli…