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    Peace council members named

    KABUL (PAN): President Hamid Karzai Tuesday announced long-awaited names of the High Peace Council, tasked with holding peace talks with militants and bringing them into the national mainstream.

    In early June, as many as 1,200 elders and influential people, who attended the Peace Advisory Jirga in Kabul, called for the creation of the council to ensure the reintegration of Taliban and other anti-government elements into society.

    Among other demands, the jirga asked the government and the international community to pave the way for talks with all disgruntle individuals and groups. It demanded the formation of a peace council to arrange reconciliation negotiations.

    On July 20, President Hamid Karzai also presented his reconciliation programme to representatives of 70 countries and international organisations at the International Kabul Conference. The proposal received overwhelming support.

    The 68-member list that includes eight women was announced by Presidential spokesman, Waheed Omar, at a press conference here in Kabul on Tuesday. The members include former jihadi leaders, ex-Taliban officials, tribal elders and government officials.

    Omar said the president would soon add another two people to the list -- one of them a woman. The council was established to strengthen security and step up the national reconciliation process, he said.

    The government's stance was clear: the militants had to lay down their weapons, accept the constitution and choose a peaceful life, he said, adding the council would work in the pursuit of those objectives.

    Asked that some members had fought against the Taliban in the 1990s, the spokesman replied: "The current conditions are different from 10 years ago. Now everybody wants peace in the country and every member has been chosen after contemplation."

    He was asked if the inclusion of state officials in the council would not make it a state-influenced body. Omar said the council was mostly comprised of tribal elders and participation some state officials would not make any difference.

    However, he added the independent entity would have the backing of the Afghan government and the global fraternity. The maiden meeting of the council will be held soon under President Hamid Karzai. The leader of the council will be appointed by members.

    The council comprises Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, Prof. Burhanuddin Rabbani, Pir Syed Ahmad Gilani, Ayatollah Sheikh Muhammad Asif Mohseni, Prof. Abdur Rab Rassoul Sayyaf, Haji Muhammad Mohaqiq, Syed Noorullah Sadat, Syed Mansoor Naderi, Haji Suleiman Yari, Muhammad Ismail Khan, Dr Farooq Wardak,, Professor Nimatullah Shahrani, Arsala Rahmani, Maulvi Pir Muhammad Rohani, Haji Muhammad Naeem Kochi, Haji Din Muhammad, Mullah Taj Muhammad Mujahid, Maulvi Muhammad Shah Adil, Haji Fazal Karim Aimaq, Maulvi Qayamuddin Kashaf, Maulvi Mohiuddin Baloch, Maulvi Shafiullah, Arif Khan Noorzai, Muhammad Daqiq, Ataullah Lodin, Anwar Khan Ishaqzai, Hassan Takhari, Maulvi Abdul Hakim Mujahid, Asadullah Wafa, Maulvi Khudaida, Qazi Muhammad Amin Wiqad, Habibullah Fawzi, Muhammad Akbari, Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, Maulvi Shahzada Shahid, Muhammad Ismail Qasimyar, Amir Muhammad Agha, Faqir Muhammad Khan, Muhammad Yusuf Waezi, Abdul Ghani Khan Tokhi, Sher Muhammad Akhunzada, Haji Amanullah Otmanzai, Abdul Wahid Baghrani, Khalifa Qazal Ayyaq, Maulvi Qalamuddin, Engineer Ibrahim Spinzada, Haji Moosa Khan Hotak, Maulvi Salikzada, Abdul Hameed Mubarez, Siddiq Ahmad Osmani, Mawdodi, Aminuddin Muzafari, Syed Muhammad Amin Tariq, Baz Muhammad Khan Zurmati, Abdul Khaliq Hussaini, Haji Muhammad Daud Zahidyar, Muhammad Hashim Faulad, Maulvi Jora, Haji Sherin Khan Noorzai, Haji Fazal Karim Fazal.

    Eight women on the council are Sara Surkhabi, Jamila Hamidi, Hawa Alam Nuristani, Najia Ziwari, Siddiqa Balkhi, Gulhar Jalal, Dr Gulalai Noor Safi and Qamar Khostai.

    ss/mud