Community Jirga on Peace Process
The main objective of the Community Jirga on Peace Process was to assess how local Afghans view the current peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Eight mediated district-level meetings were conducted in five key provinces across the country: Kandahar, Balkh, Laghman, Bamiyan and Nimruz. While gleaning a more accurate sense of sentiments across the country, KIP representatives also endeavored to compare and contrast the views of the district event’s participants to those residing in the provincial centers. A total of nearly 1,000 individuals participated in these Jirgas and the initiative recorded social media engagement close to half a million.
Laghman Community Jirga (Male Event)
A Community Jirga was organized for local residents in Mehtherlam city, capital of Laghman Province, eastern Afghanistan, on 30 March, 2021. The main item on the agenda was the ongoing peace and reconciliation process for Afghanistan. KIP representatives initiated the discussion and highlighted the importance of dialogue and the urgency of the current situation, where violence across the country has risen to an unprecedented level even as peace negotiations are underway. The attendees provided a balanced representation of Laghman province, bringing together the Ulama, tribal elders, civil society members, teachers, students and active youth representatives. The attendees expressed their desire for enduring peace across the country which has eluded the nation for decades. The overall consensus showed that people in Laghman felt their voices and interests were not adequately reflected in the peace negotiations. They made some general suggestions for future grassroots events and how they could be more involved in the peace and reconciliation process. It would be worthwhile to conduct further research on how to build peace-making structures that are more representative of the Afghan people at a district level.
Laghman Community Jirga (Women’s Event)
The event took place in the Qarghai district of Laghman Province, eastern Afghanistan, on 29 March, 2021. There were 52 female participants aged between 20 and 50 years old. The main purpose of the event was to discuss the ongoing peace and reconciliation process with local Afghan women and to hear their suggestions and recommendations.
One of the attendees said: “My parents’ lives were squandered in search of peace and now it’s our turn to wait desperately for a lifelong peace. Now that we have this golden opportunity to bring peace, we have to be very careful, patient, tolerant and welcoming. We cannot miss this chance, otherwise we have to wait another half century to bring long-lasting peace to Afghanistan.”
Mazar Sharif Community Jirga (Male Event)
The Kabul Institute for Peace organized a jirga in Balkh province on 2 April, 2021. KIP representatives initiated an open dialogue with tribal elders, local social activists, and community leaders. A number of 200 people attended the jirga in Balkh to discuss the ongoing peace talks, strengthening overall peace in the country, the constructive role all Afghans can play in peace talks and other related issues.
At the meeting, the local tribal elders called on both sides to use soft language and show tolerance to ensure that the peace talks are successful, reiterating that the main victims of war are always the civilians. Another representative recommended that the peace negotiators need to put aside ethnic and political differences and only focus on achieving nationwide peace. All should prioritize national interests, over their own personal interests, he said.
Mazar Sharif Community Jirga (Women’s Event)
On 3 April, 2021, the Kabul Institute for Peace organized a women’s jirga in Mazar-i Sharif city, Balkh province. The jirga was attended by educators, women representatives, social activists, government employees and heads of institutions. Almost 120 women participated in this jirga, where KIP representatives spoke about the peace process, and related issues.
The attendees questioned the current peace talks, the legitimacy of the representatives and the potential outcome of the peace deal. Afghan women remain deeply concerned over whether the terms of any peace agreement will be honored. The participants called on the international community to provide assurances that the peace agreement will be respected by all Afghans.
Nimroz Community Jirga
A community-based dialogue was organized in Nimruz Province on 31 March, 2021. The dialogue was organized for local residents in the Zaranj city, capital of Nimruz Province, South Western Afghanistan. The aim was to gather the opinions of local people on the peace and reconciliation process for Afghanistan. The presence of diverse attendees from different ethnicities, gender, age group, religious beliefs, education level and backgrounds generated a thoughtful and realistic discussion.
An emotional moment for most of the participants was when a young girl shed tears, pleading to the Taliban: “I know that you are also tired, from the deserts and mountains, hunger, cold and heat. I am pleading to you to join the peace process, there has been enough bloodshed.”
Kandahar Community Jirga (Male Event)
On 10 April, 2021, a community-based discussion was organized in Kandahar province. The participants comprised of the local residents in Kandahar city, and representatives from the adjoining districts of Dand, Daman, Panjwai and Takhtapul. The goal was to initiate a dialogue to gather the opinions of local people on the ongoing peace and reconciliation process for Afghanistan.
One of the tribal elders shared his concern about the peace talks: “We can’t let this unique opportunity for bringing peace in Afghanistan be misused by our politicians and warlords as they have their own personal interests. We need to unite and nominate our own leaders and representatives, people who are not corrupt, have a clean image, are neutral and well connected with local people, so that they can represent us in the best way possible.”
Kandahar Community Jirga (Women’s Event)
On 11 April, 2021, a community-based discussion for women was arranged in Kandahar city. The organizers invited the city’s women to unreservedly express their views on the ongoing peace talks. Around 110 women took part in the event, among them students, teachers, government employees and social activists.
The participants raised general questions about the contradictory social scenario in Afghanistan; where on the one hand, women are asked to raise their voice and fight for their rights, while on the other hand, they are silenced and ignored. They added that women are not only made for domestic work, cooking and cleaning but also can play a vital role in the major decision-making processes for the nation and contribute in the social and economic development of the country. One of the attendees even shared an Islamic perspective for the benefit of the Taliban, pointing out that even Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), his companions and the Caliphs used to consult well-informed women like Bibi Khadija, Hazrat Aisha, Bib Fatima and others during major decision making processes. As such, Afghan women should be also consulted and heard during the peace talks, she said.
Bameyan Community Jirga
A community-based dialogue was organized in Bameyan Province on 27 April, 2021. The dialogue was organized for local residents in front of historic Bameyan sculpture in Bameyan Province, Central Afghanistan. Almost 120 women and men from different walks of life participated in this Jirga,
The aim was to gather the opinions of local people on the peace and reconciliation process for Afghanistan. The attendees questioned the current peace talks, the legitimacy of the representatives and the potential outcome of the peace deal. Afghan women remain deeply concerned over whether the terms of any peace agreement will be honored and women rights protected
Herat Community Jirga
A community-based dialogue was organized in Herat province on 3 July, 2021. The dialogue was organized for local resident in historic Qala e Ikhtiyarudean , Herat city. There was a total of 124 participants in the Herat city community jirga, that included tribe elders, social activists, university lecturers, school teachers and students.
The aim was to gather opinions of educated urban citizens of Herat city on the peace process of Afghanistan. One of the social activists shared his concern about the peace talk: “the current situation is not good from one side we see migration has started back and secondly investments and investors are going out of the country war is getting intense I call upon the government this situation is not beneficial to anyone, everyone killed in this war wither its Talib, civilian or government officials all are Afghans it’s the outsiders who brought war to our country to reach their personal interests. In this situation its needed to gather the people and see what people want? We see every day Afghans are getting killed our military fights for day without food and water but no one takes care of the situation, I want all sides to make peace and stop war.”
Nangarhar Community Jirga
On 8 July, 2021, a community-based Jirga was organized in Jalalabad city of Nangarhar province. The majority of attendees were young men and women, around 130 men and women from different walks of life participated in this jirga.
The main purpose of the event was to have an open discussion regarding the ongoing peace process and beyond, with the educated young citizens of Jalalabad city. One of the participant said that: “I think it is time to stop fighting each other and make peace through talking and we want peace, we want peace to protect women’s rights, we don’t want to go back to Dr. Najeeb time.”
Panjshir Community Jirga
On 12 July, 2021, a community-based Jirga was organized in the Darya Bar Spin Hotel in Panjshir. There were more than 200 people from different walks of life and they participated in this jirga.
The views of the participants in our Jirga in Panjshir were much more pessimistic about the current peace process. The people were saying “We are thirsty for peace but we have absolutely no hope for peace”, someone said “The peace process is being controlled by the outsiders and what you see in the negotiations table is a show”.