Civil society sidelined in peace talks: Rafiee
KABUL (Pajhwok): Civil society activists on Sunday slammed the High Peace Council (HPC) for giving them no representation on the panel, saying its work would not be fruitful in the absence of social workers.
Azizullah Rafiee, the Afghanistan Civil Society Association head, accused the government of sidelining civil society organisations and being indifferent toward them.
He told Pajhwok Afghan News peace parleys had not yielded a positive outcome because the process lacked the backing of other groups. Peace would come about as a result of political, military and social consultations.
On the social plane, he claimed, civil society groups had made many achievements in promoting peace in far-flung areas. Civil society activists made their presence felt even in localities under insurgent control.
With the help of local elders and religious scholars, they have effectively conveyed the message of peace to people, Rafiee added, implying their input could make the process of negotiations more meaningful.
Yasin Negah, an activist in Kabul, said civil society’s role in peacemaking was not yet perceptible. “We don’t remember if the government or HPC has spoken to civil society organisations about promoting peace.”
Negah alleged despite civil society’s active role in oversight of government performance, promotion of human rights and participation in elections, the authorities had not paid considerable attention to them.
He believed achieving peace would be possible only when local elders, religious scholars and civil society activists were given an active role in the process.
MasoomaMohammadi, women’s rights activist, hit out at the lack of coordination between civil society organisations and the High Peace Council.
Ali Ahmad Kawa, an activist from Herat province, said civil society organisations had a proactive role in ensuring human rights and democracy that were prerequisites for lasting peace.
Thus, he said, it was necessary that the groupswere granted an active role in the peace process. But the government did not have a proper peace strategy and which was why it did not have tangible results, he claimed.
But Abdul Hakim Mujahid, the peace council’s acting head, responded that Abdul Hamid Mubarez had actively participated in the peace process on behalf of civil society. The council is ready to consult civil society on an ad-hoc basis.
The peace body has 69 members, including nine women. In its five years of existence, the council has held peace talks with Taliban insurgents on several occasions but to no avail.
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