Issue 05/10

AFGHANISTAN Developments in Justice & Reconciliation Ann-Kristin Otto – Justice & Reconciliation KM ( (

10 June 2010

This document is intended to provide an overview of relevant Justice and Reconciliation developments in Afghanistan. More comprehensive information is available on the Civil-Military Overview (CMO) at Hyperlinks to original source material are highlighted in blue and underlined in the embedded text.

Peace Jirga on Reconciliation and Reintegration
National Consultative Peace Jirga Concludes in Kabul. On 02 June, President Hamid Karzai gave a speech opening to the National Consultative Peace Jirga in Kabul. The gathering lasted for three days, ending on 04 June, and was attended by 1,600 delegates. Participants joined from all 34 Afghan provinces and included Members of Parliament (MPs), representatives from different tribes and ethnic groups, refugee communities, women’s groups, Afghanistan’s Ulema (religious council), cabinet members and various international diplomats holding an observer status. The Taliban were not invited to participate. The Christian Science Monitor (CSM) writes that the legitimacy of the event was questioned by some who argued that participants were handpicked by the Afghan government and did not fully represent Afghan society. Prominent opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah chose not to participate in the jirga saying that no positive results could be expected if the Taliban did not take part. Former President of Afghanistan and head of the Jamiat-e Islami party, Burhanuddin Rabbani, was named chairman of the jirga and stressed the need for national unity during his opening speech. Rabbani’s appointment, however, caused some debate among participants who raised opposition to the ethnic Tajik, arguing he was an obstacle to peace, Kate Clark of the Afghanistan Analyst Network (AAN) writes. Goals of the Jirga. During his opening remarks, President Karzai urged militants to lay down their arms and join the peace process, saying it was the duty of the Afghan government and the international forces to “bring back home” those who because of “ill treatment and intimidation” had joined the insurgency. The jirga aimed at building domestic consensus on the conditions under which direct negotiations between the Afghan government and insurgent

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groups, including the Taliban leadership, should take place. Furthermore, Hamid Karzai aimed at gaining support for his reintegration strategy through the event (refer to CFC Justice & Reconciliation Report 04/10). According to Reuters, the international community had pledged their full support for the jirga and other attempts to reach out to insurgent groups; however there are still some reservations when it comes to talks with the top Taliban leadership. The gathering resulted in the adoption of a resolution outlining steps to push forward reconciliation and reintegration efforts in Afghanistan. The resolution is not legally binding. Is the Resolution Too Vague? During the three-day meeting, delegates were divided into 28 working groups, each further divided into three sub-groups, Pajhwok Afghan News writes. The groups submitted their proposals for the different agenda items to the plenum which made the final vote on the resolution. The final resolution is divided into three parts which are then subdivided into individual articles: Understanding, Negotiation and Agreement for Sustainable Peace; Framework for Talks with the Disaffected; and Developing Mechanism for Negotiation with the Disaffected. The first seven articles under the section “Understanding, Negotiation and Agreement for Sustainable Peace” are rather general calls for all parties to cooperate in the peace process and limits the reconciliation initiatives to only Afghans, explicitly excluding international terrorist networks and “foreign extremist elements.” Article 2 calls on the government to turn the outcomes of the jirga into a “national and standing strategy,” while Article 3 stresses that the peace efforts should not “bring to question the achievements made so far,” addressing the concerns of many that reconciliation efforts could compromise several achievements made in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban. Part 2 of the resolution develops the Framework for Talks with Article 8 calling on the Afghan government and the international troops to review the detention of alleged insurgents and possibly enable their release as well as review and revise their “blacklists.” The article also calls for a guarantee of safety and protection for those willing to leave the insurgency, to avoid “any unnecessary arrests and arbitrary searches of houses as well as aerial bombardment,” and to quickly train and enable the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to lead military operations. The third part of the resolution entitled “Developing Mechanism for Negotiation with the Disaffected” defines concrete steps that need to be made following the gathering in Kabul. According to this article, a commission should be created to oversee the implementation of the Jirga resolution that would include a special committee to deal with the call for the release of prisoners in Article 8. First Steps and Public Reactions. In what is described by the Office of the President as a first step in implementing the Jirga proposal, on 06 June, Karzai ordered a review of all cases involving detainees imprisoned for alleged links to the armed opposition and called for the release of those whose cases lacked sufficient evidence, the Associated Press (AP) writes. The jirga participants expressed support for Karzai’s Reconciliation and Reintegration programme offering jobs and other incentives to those low to mid-level insurgents willing to quit fighting, the BBC reports. However, Thomas Ruttig of the AAN claims that Karzai’s reintegration and reconciliation policy was never distributed to participants and hence never discussed at the event. Ruttig stresses that by unanimously adopting the policy without discussing it, the jirga showed “Karzai’s immunity to advice” and a general “democracy deficit.” Ruttig compares the 2

peace jirga to the constitutional Loya Jirga saying that a similar lack of “real Afghan participation” could be observed. Experts have also warned against high expectations for the strategy pointing at past reconciliation programmes and their shortfalls as outlined in the report “Golden Surrender?” written by Matt Waldman. An Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) report calls Karzai’s most recent reintegration strategy “flawed,” saying that without addressing the fundamental problems such as a “predatory political system that has excluded some ethnic groups; abuse of power by government officials; and a perception that international forces are overly aggressive,” reintegration efforts will not bear fruit. Reactions to the jirga differ with many Members of Parliament (MPs) doubting the resolution will meet people’s expectations and warning that some of its provisions would not be in accordance with the Afghan Constitution, Aina TV reports. BBC interviews with Afghans also reveal diverging views among the populace on whether or not the meeting could bring peace to the war-torn country. According to the Canadian Globe and Mail, the resolution, while not being legally binding, offers a glimpse at what the Afghan government is prepared to concede to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. The article states that observers worry that women’s rights in particular could be compromised by strengthening Islamic Law to lure the Taliban. According to Pajhwok, the European Union (EU) and the US both welcomed the outcome of the gathering, expressing their willingness to support the peace process in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the armed opposition group Hezb-e Islami, led by Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, rejected the Jirga proposal, claiming that the document legitimises the long-term presence of international troops on Afghan soil. The group instead calls for the immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops in Afghanistan, Pajhwok writes. Caroline Wadhams of the Center for American Progress expresses her pessimism over the outcome of the jirga on Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel. She writes that the jirga did not seriously scrutinize Karzai’s reconciliation strategy, nor did it discuss meaningful alternatives. Being unrepresentative and staffed with handpicked delegates, she claims that the jirga’s “real objective...was to enhance Karzai’s prestige before the international community.” Wadham urges the international community to “start asking [...] tougher questions about how to achieve sustainable security in Afghanistan [...] and empower a wider range of Afghan actors to ask for themselves,” if progress towards peace and stability is desired. Please visit our CFC Justice & Reconciliation Discussion Board.
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