President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday addressed world representatives at Geneva Conference on Afghanistan in Switzerland, where he talked on achievements made by the Afghan government in the past four years and meanwhile he announced his plan for peace talks.
He said the road-map for peace negotiations is the outcome of several months of intense consultations with citizens across Afghanistan.
“We have formed the required bodies and mechanisms to pursue a peace agreement. We are now moving ahead into the next chapter of the peace process,” he said.
He continued to explain the road-map for peace, saying that “we seek a peace agreement in which the Afghan Taliban would be included in a democratic and inclusive society, respecting the following tenets:
• The Constitutional rights and obligations, of all citizens, especially women, are ensured.
• The Constitution is accepted, or amendments proposed through the constitutional provision.
• The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces and civil service function according to law.
• No armed groups with ties to transnational terrorist networks or transnational criminal organizations, or with ties to state/non-state actors, seeking influence in Afghanistan will be allowed to join the political process.”
He said peace must be built from the ground up so citizens own this peace agreement, not elites.
He added that there are three threads of consensus he has heard from Afghan citizens: on the credibility and importance of the Constitution, the necessity of our foundational partnership with the international community, and that Afghan government and society must lead and own the peace process.
The president said that government has formed a 12-person negotiating team comprised of both women and men and led by presidential chief of staff Salam Rahimi.
He continued to say that government has also formed a peace advisory board to input into the negotiations as they happen. “The advisory board consists of nine diverse committees representative of Afghan society today,” he added.
The High Peace council will be restructured to focus on post-peace scenarios and play an advisory role, he said.
President Ghani said presidential elections are key to successful peace negotiations.
“The Afghan people need an elected government with a mandate to obtain ratification, implement a peace agreement, and lead the societal reconciliation process,” he said.
According to the peace plan, resulting from these consultations are the following announcements:
• A negotiating team, led by presidential chief of staff Salam Rahimi, has been established to negotiate peace with the Afghan Taliban. The team includes women and men who have the necessary credentials to deal with the key challenges of peace negotiations.
• To ensure consensus and to provide direction to the negotiating team, diverse groups of individuals will comprise a new peace advisory board to provide timely advice on critical issues during peace negotiations.
• The High Peace Council, based on their own request and with support from the NUG, will be restructured to focus on public awareness and provide advice regarding post-peace scenarios.
• The government will proceed with a five-phase approach, commencing with an intra-Afghan dialogue, followed by discussions with Pakistan and the United States, followed by participation of regional actors, the Arab-Islamic world, and finally, NATO and non NATO countries.
• Negotiations will prioritize implementation, confidence-building measures such as time constraints, and the agreement on a method of ratification of a peace settlement.
Meanwhile, according to the peace plan, members of the 12-member negotiating team are listed below. (The list is subject to change and additional considerations):
• Abdul Salam Rahimi, Chief of Staff of the President
• Mohammad Mirwais Balkhi, Minister of Education
• Hasina Safi, Minister of Information and Culture
• Abdul Tawab Balakarzai, Deputy Minister of Higher Education
• Dr. Alema, Deputy Minister of Refugees and Repatriation
• General Ebadullah Ebad, Deputy of National Directorate of Security
• Shahgul Rezaee, Member of Wolesi Jirga
• Attaullah Ludin, Member of Ulema Council
• Shamim Katawazai, governor of Paktia province
• Abdullah Attai, Member of Supreme Court
• Tooryali Ghiasi, Director of Cultural Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
• Abdul Hakim Muneeb, Deputy Minister of Haj and Religious Affairs
Based on the peace plan, the new peace advisory board is comprised of the following nine committees:
• Political Leaders Committee
• Political Parties Committee
• Youth Affairs Committee
• Women’s Affairs Committee
• Ulema Committee
• Provincial Leaders Committee
• Civil Society and Cultural Committee
• Private Sector Committee
• Refugees and Diaspora Committee