Peace is the Ultimate Demand of the Afghan People
Unofficial translation of the Remarks of His Excellency Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation at the First Inaugural Meeting of the Leadership Committee of HCNR:
First of all, I welcome you all to today's meeting. In recent days, we have met with other Jihadi leaders and political figures, especially Excellencies Salahuddin Rabbani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. However, for some reason they did not attend today's meeting, but they promised to support peace and participate in consultations.
Taken into account this unique opportunity, going towards peace requires consensus and unity, and more than that, it requires not only promises but action. As the President pointed out, the representatives of the Afghan people in the Grand Peace Consultative Jirga expressed people’s will and determination for peace.
That was a fair representation and demonstration of the will of the people of Afghanistan, and they unanimously called for a dignified peace while asking for the preservation of the country's institutions and achievements. However, we also need to bear in mind the principle that achieving peace require sacrifice from everyone.
Our effort in the General Assembly and the High Council for National Reconciliation is to represent the consensus of the Afghan people and to provide good representation from all walks of life to a possible extent. In this regard, however, hundred percent gain is not possible, but we must make hundred percent effort to achieve this noble goal.
Hereinafter, the meetings of the Leadership Committee and the General Assembly of the High Council will be held to have meaningful discussions, and we must determine what steps to take to achieve lasting peace and build the trust of the people of Afghanistan.
Today, the people of Afghanistan yearn for the establishment of a nationwide ceasefire and the elimination of the animosity. People are deeply disturbed by the number of casualties and death at the result of war and violence.
We must agree on the roadmap for peace as to what steps to take and to what extent we are willing to make sacrifices in order to address the call and yearning of the people of Afghanistan for peace.
We must think wisely and decide how possibly we can preserve both the national institutions and the recent achievements of the Afghan people without being harmed, and at the same time live in peace at home and with the region. The people of Afghanistan legitimately as how the High Council for National Reconciliation, which has taken on this enormous responsibility, will succeed in achieving this. If there are issues that require the decision of the Afghan people, HCNR will refer to the people in an appropriate manner. There is no doubt that the vast majority of the people of Afghanistan want a dignified and lasting peace.
Poet says: [Persian]
Plant the tree of friendship that brings happiness
Uproot the tree of animosity that causes countless suffering
The people of Afghanistan have made countless sacrifices for peace. At one point, Ustad Burhanuddin Rabbani, the leader of the Jamiat-e-Islami, was in charge of the process. For a while, Professor Sebghatullah Mojaddedi and then Pir Sahib Gilani led the process. Then, in a very sensitive situation, Ustad Khalili took charge of the peace process. Now the responsibility is bestowed upon us. Relying on the Almighty God, we are at the service of the people of Afghanistan, and in this direction, we ask for the cooperation of the elders and the people of Afghanistan for the success of this sacred cause. I assure you that I have no personal agenda and will not spare any effort in this regard.
At the inaugural meeting in Doha, I reiterated that we will preserve the sacrifices and the achievement of the people of Afghanistan. The National Hero of Afghanistan, late Ahmad Shah Massoud, accepting all the risks, took unprecedent steps several times in this regard and stressed that if there is an opportunity for peace, it should not be missed. Now is the time, and this very huge responsibility has been placed on this assembly and the High Council for National Reconciliation. The people of Afghanistan expect us to move towards peace in a spirit of mutual acceptance and inclusivity.
In the words of the poet: [Pashto]
(که ما ویل چې ته یې او تا ویل چې ته یې
هم به زه یم هم به ته یې
که ما ویل چې زه یم او تا ویل چې زه یم
نه به ته یې نه به زه یم)
If I say you will be there, and you say that I also should be there, in that case me, and you, both of us, will be there. If I say that its only me, and you say that it is only you, then both of us, you, and me, shall not be there.
The ownership of the peace process belongs to the people of Afghanistan, we do our best to involve different segments of society in this process so that their ideas and demands are properly considered and implemented.
A political determination to end the war has taken hold. Therefore, we call on the people of Afghanistan and our dear compatriots, including those living in Taliban-controlled areas, to play their key role in this process.
Peace does not mean going back to the past. We work for a peace in which everyone should feel victorious and supportive of the process. Violence is a major obstacle to the peace process and has left the Afghan people frustrated. No more lives and property of our fellow citizens should be lost.
An immediate and nationwide ceasefire is the main demand of the Afghan people. Next, we have many steps ahead, especially ensuring the implementation of the peace agreement. However, the first step is for both parties to prove their intention to cease the fire. The side of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has taken a very clear stance in this regard.
The start of the second phase of the talks is a significant step forward, although it took time, contrary to the expectations of the Afghan people. We should not have a opportunistic view of the peace process, because no one is guaranteed to survive the warfare; it only causes more destruction to Afghanistan. While the normal process of governance is ongoing, we have to focus all our efforts on achieving peace as a necessity and priority for ending the war. I promise to focus on peace and not to interfere in government affairs as much as possible.
Although the decision of releasing Taliban prisoners which was confirmed by the Grand Peace Consultative Jirga, which of course, had undesirable consequences, was a major step towards peace. This shows that the people of Afghanistan are willing to sacrifice but in the hope of achieving peace. I was asked if I still do not regret that decision. I answered no, because it was with the intention of starting the negotiations and ending the war to achieve a lasting peace, so I do not regret it.
We thank the international community for its support. Cooperation between the countries of the region and the international community is must to ensure a lasting peace alongside national consensus. The people of Afghanistan want regional consensus in support of peace, and good relations with neighboring countries; and I recently visited countries of the region seeking their support for peace in Afghanistan.
To achieve peace, stability, and prosperity, Afghanistan also needs global consensus in support of lasting peace, development, and political stability.
We thank the International Community for their pledges of support at Geneva Conference to support and assist the people of Afghanistan. We thank The International Community, especially the United States, the European Union, NATO, the countries of the region, the Muslim countries, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the facilitators for their support for the peace efforts, and thank the State of Qatar for hosting the Peace Talks.
On behalf of all, I also thank the negotiating team. Everyone should appreciate their efforts. They proved that they have a real commitment to peace, national interests, and the people of Afghanistan. The negotiating team is a comprehensive team that reflects the image of today’s Afghanistan. They include religious scholars, women, youth, and civil society organisations, and their presence shows that today’s Afghanistan is different from that of the past.
We also thank the negotiating team of the other side, because we would not have reached this stage without their consent. Now, the second phase of the talks we have to achieve what the Afghan people are asking for. The first step in this direction is a comprehensive ceasefire and an end to hostilities. Of course, there will be other serious discussions ahead, and we see this ability in our negotiating team to represent well the will of the people of Afghanistan.
During the negotiations, comments and discussions were made, and sometimes they were leaked to the media, which did not help the negotiation process. We thank our negotiating team and assure them that you represent all the people of Afghanistan and have the full support of the Leadership Committee and the High Council for National Reconciliation. You have so far represented the will of the Afghan people and we wish you continued success. I hope that this opportunity will be used to the fullest to ensure a dignified and lasting peace.
Finally, thank you again for coming. However, the continuation of our work requires the cooperation. We expect everyone to cooperate. We ask God Almighty to grant us the success of the great people of Afghanistan.
God's peace, mercy, and blessings be upon you
Long live Afghanistan