Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

War and Peace

Looking ahead to Intra-Afghan Negotiations: A scrutiny of different political groups’ plans for peace

Ali Yawar Adili Khadija Hossaini 33 min

Since the US-Taleban agreement in late February, focus has shifted to intra-Afghan negotiations, with little clarity so far as to their scope. The US-Taleban deal agreed on 29 February focused on the withdrawal of US (and other foreign) troops, and anti-terrorism guarantees by the Taleban. While waiting for talks to begin, five political groups have put forward proposals. However, the emphasis on process has eclipsed discussions on what these groups hope to get out of the negotiations. In this report, AAN’s researchers Ali Yawar Adili and Khadija Hossaini look at five peace plans published by various Afghan political groups and examine how they contrast with the existing government’s structure and ideas for the intra-Afghan negotiations. Three major themes run through these plans to do with: the structural framework, phases of the negotiation process and institutional arrangements.

Girls and boys from Nawaabad school singing the national anthem to welcome the protesters to Ghazni city. (2018: the peace marchers)Girls and boys from Nawaabad school singing the national anthem to welcome People's Peace Movement (PPM) marchers to Ghazni city in 2018. Photo: PPM.

The agreement between the United States and the Taleban signed on 29 February was welcomed by many prominent Afghan politicians, with most making swift calls for intra-Afghan talks. (1) The deal, “Bringing Peace to Afghanistan” (see full text here and AAN’s content analysis here), proposed that intra-Afghan negotiations start on 10 March 2020, and, specifically, “the date and modalities of a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire, including joint implementation mechanisms, which will be announced along with the completion and agreement over the future political roadmap of Afghanistan.” This has been delayed by controversies after the disputed outcome of the 2019 presidential election and about a prisoner exchange between the Afghan government and the Taleban.

Peace plans

Despite the main political factions’ enthusiasm, the question is now whether or not they have an agenda for the negotiations. In this report, AAN reviewed five peace plans or peace-related policy positions by different political groups (AAN has put these plans in the resources section of this website). These plans, which have been circulated over the last months, are:

  • Jamiat-e Islami-ye Afghanistan: A Comprehensive Peace Plan for Afghanistan: A Practical Concept Note for Sustainable Peace”

This was developed by the party’s executive council chief (and former Balkh governor), Atta Muhammad Nur in early 2020. Nur Rahman Akhlaqi, a member of Jamiat, told AAN on 30 March 2020 that the plan had not been discussed within the party and that it had been published by Nur alone. Akhlaqi, however, refused to comment on whether or not it reflected the party’s policy position when it came to peace negotiations with the Taleban. 

  • Heart of Asia Society“Draft Framework for Intra-Afghan Peace Negotiations between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Taleban Movement”

This plan was drafted by the Heart of Asia Society, an independent think tank run by former Deputy Foreign Minister Jawid Ludin, with “a select group of independent Afghan political figures” in Jadi 1398 (December 2019/January 2020) and a revised version a month later, Dalw 1398 (January-February 2020, see also the media report here ). (2)

  • Mehwar-e Solh wa Nejat-e Afghanistan az Bohran (Axis for Peace and Salvation of Afghanistan from Crisis): Tarh-e Shura-ye Melli-ye Solh (Plan of the National Council for Peace)” 

This effort is associated with former President Hamed Karzai and a number of political, jihadi and civil society leaders. The Axis assigned a commission to draft a national peace plan in consultation with political parties, civil and social organisations, tribal councils and national elders.

  • Mehwar-e Mardom-e Afghanistan: “Position of Mehwar-e Mardom Afghanistan regarding Peace Negotiations”

This four-page policy paper comes from Mehwar-e Mardom, which is led by the former head of the National Directorate of Security and a 2019 presidential candidate, Rahmatullah Nabil, and was founded in 2017 (see AAN’s reporting here). It was issued on 21 July 2019 (30 Saratan 1398), more than two months before the 2019 presidential election.

  • Hezb-e Islami-e Afghanistan: “Hezb-e Islami Peace Proposal”

This comes from Hezb-e Islami led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who returned to the country in May 2017 after he concluded a peace deal with the government in the name of his party in September 2016 (AAN background here and here). Since then, he has had trouble reuniting his party (AAN background here). The peace plan was unveiled by Hekmatyar on 11 February 2020 (see media report here). 

(The original documents can be found in the AAN “resources” section, under “peace process.”)

Three major themes run through these plans, which are: structural framework (composition of the negotiation team, high peace councils, loya jirga etc); steps and phases of the negotiation process; and interim and permanent institutional arrangements. The three themes are discussed below in detail:

A) Negotiation structural framework

These peace plans propose more or less similar structural frameworks, mainly focused on a negotiation team and a national or high peace council. 

Jamiat has proposed four bodies: 

  • a team of “15 senior political leaders and influential men and women” from various “ethnic, tribal, traditional and technocrat[ic]” backgrounds “to negotiate the most critical and sensitive matters” with the Taleban. It states that the number of negotiators can be flexible, preferring a smaller number of people to allow for “more effective” decision-making;
  • a team of 50 individuals from civil society, women, media and academia called “dialogue team” with a “ceremonial role” to exchange views with the Taleban “on society, culture, politics and fundamental freedoms” in a “friendly atmosphere.” The rationale for this 50-member team is to facilitate consensus-building among “the key players” in the negotiations; 
  • a team of specialists formed by the negotiation team to provide legal advice and carry out administrative tasks;
  • a secretariat for the negotiation team. 

Mehwar-e Mardom has proposed three bodies with different functions in different stages of a peace process: 

  • a national negotiation team;
  • a national peace council;
  • a loya jirga. 

It says that the national negotiation team should be comprised of maximum 15 members (similar to the number proposed by Jamiat), appointed by the government and other forces in the political, civil and social spectrums. No foreign national can be a member of or advisor to the negotiation team. The negotiation team should have a chairperson, deputies and spokesperson elected by the members. 

The team, along with experts, prepares a peace roadmap and steps to be taken in the peace process, which should be approved by the National Peace Council, and which will be formed by political personalities, factions, parties, political and social movements. (It does not specify how many members it should have.) Once the National Peace Council is formed, the current High Peace Council and the state Ministry for Peace Affairs will be dissolved. The National Peace Council will specify the venue and time of peace talks and approve the agreements reached by the negotiation team before they are presented to a loya jirga. The National Peace Council will convene the loya jirga, whose decision will be final.   

The Axis for Peace and Salvation of Afghanistan from Crisis also suggests a National Peace Council to be elected or appointed by the president (and comprised of 70 members): 

  • ten government representatives, including two women; 
  • five women representatives (it is unclear whether the two women from the government [above] would be included among these); 
  • one Sikh and Hindu representative; 
  • four ulema representatives; 
  • 30 political party representatives; 
  • 20 civil society and social representatives; 
  • ten tribal council representatives 

(bringing the total, in fact, to 80 members.) 

Its major duties and responsibilities would be to: 

  • supervise and coordinate talks; 
  • cooperate with the negotiation team; 
  • constantly consult with political and national leaders as well as the government;
  •  inform the people of the outcome of the talks; 
  • provide logistical facilities for advancement of negotiations;
  • provide legal information for the negotiation team during the negotiations. 

The council would then elect 15 members as the “central negotiation delegation,” which would carry out the following duties: 

  • represent the people and government in the negotiations and carry out the intra-Afghan understanding process; 
  • arrange meetings and record minutes of the meetings and submit them to the National Peace Council secretariat; 
  • report the outcome of the negotiations to the national peace council and prepare the agenda of subsequent meetings; 
  • prepare an appropriate setting for the advancement of negotiations; 
  • and, if needed, carry out side negotiations with mediatory and host delegations.

The Axis also proposes a secretariat (which would operate under the administrative board of the National Peace Council and supervise around ten various committees), as well as a joint secretariat for the two delegations (of the Islamic Republic and the Taleban), to be responsible for taking minutes of the negotiations in the two official languages and consolidating them to avoid multiple interpretations.  

The Heart of Asia Foundation has proposed a more inflated organisational structure, which is composed of: 

  • a High National Reconciliation Council (the number of members would increase from the current 68 to 200) is established by the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as “the highest authority in providing legitimacy to the peace process” and its key authorities are “approving the essential lines in peace negotiations, approving or rejecting initial agreements with the Taleban, and advising the leadership council;”
  • a Leadership Commission (30 people who are also members of the High Peace Council) as the highest decision-making authority in the peace and intra-Afghan negotiation process;
  • a national negotiation team appointed by the Leadership Commission from within and outside the commission’s members that would be the only official authority for contacting and negotiating with the Taleban within the specified framework and guidelines (approved by the High National Reconciliation Council), which would report to the leadership commission on the negotiations (it would elect a head, three deputies and three secretaries);
  • a National Advisory Delegation (of 15 people appointed by the leadership commission) to provide technical support and assistance; 
  • a secretariat; 
  • working committees. 

Hezb-e Islami’s plan concentrates on consensus-building within “this side of the conflict,” ie those political forces that are currently part of the political set-up of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the lack of which is one major obstacle that has prevented the start of intra-Afghan peace talks. In the view of the party, this consensus could be achieved by four major political factions coming together, described as the three major electoral tickets plus a group of “influential personalities”:

  • Hekmatyar’s own Peace and Islamic Justice; 
  • Ashraf Ghani’s State-Builders; 
  • Dr Abdullah Abdullah’s Stability and Integration (AAN background here)
  • a group of “influential personalities” led by former President Karzai. 

Hezb-e Islami claims that these four groups represent the country’s “most influential personalities, parties, civil societies and tribal councils.” The party says that these four groups should then agree on the formation of two main bodies: 

  • a negotiation team “limited in size,” the authority of which should “be kept in check” and should not “overstep the mandate” accorded to it;
  • “an authoritative body,” ie advisory High Council for Reconciliation, to lead and manage the peace process. This would be responsible for “preliminary issues like cease-fire with the opposite site of the conflict, choosing the time, venue” and the modality of peace negotiations. Moreover, the High Council for Reconciliation comprising representatives of “all influential circles” will be endowed with “absolute authority in the final decisions over (…) crucial issues concerning the future of the country,” such as the constitution, interim government, national and foreign policies, “compensation and reparations for the damages caused by those who imposed war on the country, drafting of a unanimous peace agreement.”

AAN has also heard that Hekmatyar has been promoting these four major political factions in his meetings with local and international interlocutors as the main players. This plan could potentially exclude political and social forces not directly involved in party politics, such as civil society, including women and war victims. It also reflects ideas from an earlier Hezb-e Islami peace plan that foresaw that after two electoral terms, all political forces with under ten per cent of the vote would be excluded from participation in the political system (AAN background here).

An update on the government’s ‘peace’ structures

Some of these plans have been overtaken by the government’s own efforts to create a negotiating structure. It remains to be seen whether the government will adopt any of those proposals in completing or finalising the structural framework and the authorities for the negotiation.

At present, there are three bodies dealing with peace:

  • the High Peace Council

The council was established by former President Karzai in September 2010 based on the recommendation of a Consultative Peace Jirga (AAN analysis here and here). The then-70 member council was chaired by former President Borhunuddin Rabbani until his assassination in September 2011 (AAN reporting here). Rabbani’s eldest son (and acting head of Jamiat), Salahuddin Rabbani, replaced him in April 2012 (AAN reporting here). The HPC was revamped from 70 to 50 members in 2016. Pir Sayed Ahmad Gailani, founder of the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan mujahedin party, was appointed as its head with six deputies (AAN reporting here). He held this position until his death in January 2017. Since June 2017 (media report here), Muhammad Karim Khalili, the leader of Hazara-dominated Hezb-e Wahdat-e Islami, has been chairman of the council. 

In July 2019, President Ghani decreed that the HPC’s secretariat and “all its structure and duties” be dissolved in order “to better coordinate all the efforts at establishment of peace in the country and creating a single pivot to advance all the issues related to peace.” He also ordered that all the duties and authorities of the secretariat including its building, documents, vehicles and office equipment be transferred to the State Ministry for Peace (media report here). This, in fact, rendered it irrelevant given that the HPC had already suspended its provincial offices as instructed by the then-head of its secretariat, Muhammad Omar Daudzai, in late December 2018 (media report here). However, the HPC continues some level of activity but will likely be fundamentally overhauled or replaced by a more authoritative council.

  • the State Ministry for Peace

This ministry was established in June 2019 and President Ghani appointed his former chief of staff, Abdul Salam Rahimi, as the minister as well as special envoy for peace (media report here). The ministry was approved by the Wolesi Jirga on 30 December 2019 (media report here) as per a constitutional requirement that any new administrative unit (for example, a district or a ministry) should be approved by the Wolesi Jirga. 

  • the negotiation team

This is a 21-member delegation announced by the State Ministry for Peace on 26 March 2020. The ministry’s statement said that the delegation had been finalised “after much deliberation and consultation with all parties and influential segments of society” and was “essentially tasked to represent the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in the peace negotiations with the Taliban” (see the list in footnote (3)). 

Some civil society groups criticised the composition of the team. The Transitional Justice Coordination Group (TJCG), describing itself as “a coalition of more than 26 human rights and war victims, organisations and independent activists,” for example, issued a statement on 30 March saying that the “absence of a representative of victims of war in the delegation has made it incomplete.” It called on the government to include victims of war representatives, arguing that, inter alia, their stories can “have transformational effect on the negotiators, content and agenda of peace negotiations” and experiences show that “exclusion of war victims from the negotiation process makes the peace very fragile.”

Former NDS chief Nabil also criticised the way the team had been selected. In a response to US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad’s tweet, Nabil tweeted on 28 March “We do not oppose the list, all of them are respectable. We have issue with the selection method.”

So did the Taleban. A statement released by their spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahed, on 28 March noted that the negotiation team announced by “the Kabul administration” was against their policy, which is that the government “may participate in intra-afghan negotiations as a part of other sides.” It said that its composition contradicted their agreement with the US. The statement said that the “team must be agreed upon by all effective Afghan sides so that it can represent all sides,” claiming that the “majority of other sides have rejected” the team announced by the government. The Taleban’s statement came in the context of the still-unresolved political impasse between Ghani and Dr Abddullah, which in turn stems from the disputed election results; thus Abdullah’s disapproval of the team may have been anticipated. 

However, three days later, on 31 March, Dr Abdullah issued a statement saying that the team did represent the Islamic Republic but that further discussion was needed about the method of reporting and the authority (the president or a possible reconciliation council) that would specify the mandate of the team. Some other political players also called the team ‘inclusive’ and announced their support for it. This included ex-governor Atta and Hezb-e Wahdat-e Mardom led by Mohaqeq (find their statements here and here). The formation of the negotiation team was also welcomed by the international community, which also considered it to be inclusive (see some of the statements in footnote (4)).

However, a decisive part will be a new or revamped High Peace Council/High Council for Reconciliation, which is expected to be established. For instance, Salam Rahimi told Tolonews that a Reconciliation Council led by Dr Abdullah would be formed soon.  (5) A source close to Abdullah also told AAN on 20 April that he was finalising a proposed agreement based on which he would lead the Council for Reconciliation (a forthcoming AAN report will look at the on-going political impasse in Kabul). It seems that a new Council for Reconciliation would serve two purposes: to oversee the negotiation and peace process and to end the current political standoff between ‘the Palace’ and Abdullah. Until such clarity is achieved, the overlapping authorities of the current High Peace Council, Ministry for Peace and the negotiating team will likely remain unchanged.

If the impasse is settled, as minister Rahimi has said, it will mark a strong convergence between the government and political forces in terms of the structural framework and authorities for negotiation with the Taleban. 

As detailed above, only Jamiat’s plan contrasts with the idea of the Council for Reconciliation as it entrusts the decision-making to the negotiation team, which is understandable given that it conceives the negotiation team to be composed of “senior political leaders” to call the shots in the process (and the dialogue team seems to been intended to ease the climate and build trust with the Taleban for negotiations (perhaps similar to the intra-Afghan dialogue in July 2019 in Doha (AAN background here), while the team of specialists and secretariat have more technical and logistical roles). The remaining four plans by Karzai’s group, Mehwar-e Mardom, the Heart of Asia Society and Hezb-e Islami call for more authoritative bodies (High/National Peace Council/High Council for Reconciliation/Leadership Commission) akin to what minister Rahimi has prefigured both in terms of hierarchy and authority compared to the negotiation team. Mehwar-e Mardom, for instance, believes that a High Peace Council should both approve the peace roadmap to be pursued and the agreements reached by the negotiation team. 

Comparably, the council referred to by minister Rahimi is also expected to set the agenda and policies to be carried out by the negotiation team, as one member of the negotiation team predicted in a private discussion attended by one of the authors. This member of the negotiation team believed that it would have a hard time in case Ghani and Abdullah fail to conclude a political agreement to end the current post-election polarisation. 

B) Phases of the peace process

In this part of this report, we would like to highlight what steps or phases have been suggested by the parties that have proposed the peace plans described above. 

Jamiat-e Islami lays out three major steps in the process: 

  • a comprehensive ceasefire; 
  • a transitional period; 
  • and international and regional mechanisms to support peace. 

Jamiat’s plan proposes the following steps to achieve an agreement on ceasefire. However, these steps look somewhat fuzzy and we try to put them in an understandable way: 

  • the Taleban agree to a complete reduction of violence (ie halt attacks on populated areas of cities and denounce “trans-national terrorism” to prove their willingness for peace) in return for the removal of their leaders’ names from the United Nations (UN) Security Council blacklist; 
  • the government will propose a ceasefire and if the Taleban accept it, the government and international forces will stop military operations in areas controlled by the Taleban. The Taleban also have to cease all operations, and the plan explicitly refers to intelligence collection, for example. At this stage, the Taleban will maintain “administrative responsibilities” in the areas under their control and those areas would need to be identified before any agreement; 
  • the Taleban cut ties with foreign countries, especially with foreign intelligence agencies and military organisations. Taleban prisoners that have not been sentenced to lifetime imprisonment or death will be released by the government, which will ensure that the Taleban leadership will not carry out “future warfare acts.” 
  • “In the final part of the peace and reconciliation process,” all areas controlled by parties to the conflict will come under the direct control of the Afghan government and Afghan law.

The second step is to agree upon and implement a transitional period of two years in order to build trust between all sides of the conflict. The plan states that “success and failure in peace building process has a direct relation with management” during the transitional period, which will have three major parts: disarmament and demobilisation (integrating anti-government forces into the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces or reintegration into society and civil organisations); general clemency (referring to declaring a national reconciliation process, providing vocational training for reintegrated Taleban members) and social justice (referring to appropriate arrangements and the restitution of honour to the families of victims); and the holding of a loya jirga to amend the constitution (more on this under the institutional arrangement). 

The third step is regional and international management of peace. Jamiat’s plan proposes resolutions by the UN Security Council and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The regional countries and international community express their “support” of a peace treaty and a non-interference policy at an international conference. It foresees the establishment of a provisional body for such transition by the international community to monitor the fulfilment of the commitments by all national and international parties to the peace deal. 

The Heart of Asia Society suggests the following components in the process after the formation of the necessary bodies:

  • development of a negotiations agenda

This would be achieved through three working groups: 

  • a legal working group dealing with the amendment of the constitution; basic rights of citizens; women’s rights; and electoral reforms;
    • a security working group dealing with ceasefire; monitoring violations; prisoner release; integration of the Taleban into security institutions and registration of all combat equipment; 
    • a working group dealing with development and economic challenges; international assistance; repatriation of immigrants; and reintegration of fighters into society.
  • establishment of the Foreign Relations Committee within the advisory team

This committee would be responsible for convening a conference within a month after the establishment of the leadership commission. This conference would be attended by ambassadors and other representatives of countries and institutions cooperating with the peace process with the aim of securing their cooperation;

  • establishment of unofficial “channels of communication” with the Taleban

The plan stresses the particular importance of these channels before negotiations between the two sides “to determine and agree on a roadmap and proceed accordingly”, saying that such channels could be initially forged through intermediary or third party bodies;

  • ratification and implementation of a peace agreement

According to the plan, the leadership commission proposes a joint commission for the implementation of the peace agreement once an agreement is reached;

  • obtaining international guarantees

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, under the guidance of the leadership commission, should take necessary steps to obtain regional and international guarantees, including approval of the UN Security Council.

The Axis for Peace proposes several steps: 

  • internal and external confidence building; 
  • a political and military agreement;
  • the establishment of constitutional and military commissions; 
  • a loya jirga. 

The internal trust-building steps should involve a reduction of violence to pave the way for a ceasefire, establish a contact group composed of representatives from the parties to the conflict to foster trust and develop understanding between the two sides, and agree a common agenda for the peace plan. External trust-building involves the neighbouring, regional and international levels. 

The second step is the process of negotiations led by a national peace council. This should lead to two major agreements: a political and a military one. In order to reach a political agreement, the plan proposes a number of terms and conditions, including that the interpretation of religious principles within the peace deal be assigned to a competent authority (in anticipation of the Taleban insisting on their own implementation of Sharia). Other proposed outcomes are: 

  • that the Taleban should guarantee that they cut ties with terrorist groups; 
  • that all parties to the negotiation should guarantee that Afghanistan will not be a source of threat to other countries; 
  • that parties to the negotiation should give clear responses to the security concerns of regional countries such as Iran, Russia, India and Pakistan;
  • a commitment to elections as the sole source of political legitimacy after the implementation of political and military agreements; 
  • and an international summit attended by regional and other countries should be convened to support political and military agreements.

According to their proposed military agreement, the Taleban should provide a list of their military forces at the district level. These forces are supposed to be voluntarily integrated into structures agreed upon by both the government and the Taleban. In doing so, the military procedures should be observed (though the plan is unclear as to whether it refers to the current military procedures or new ones to be agreed upon through negotiations). Those non-government military forces that do not voluntarily join the government’s military forces (apparently under the structures agreed by the government and the Taleban) should be disarmed and provided with job opportunities with the support of the government and the international community (upon which, according to the plan, the Afghan Local Police, arbaki and uprising forces should also be disarmed). After the implementation of the military agreement, any remaining armed group on Afghan soil will be viewed as an enemy force and joint action should be taken against them.  

The third step is the declaration of a permanent ceasefire (it also proposes a temporary ceasefire by the Taleban, the government and foreign forces for the beginning of the negotiations to show the negotiations are serious) and the establishment of a commission for the implementation of both political and military agreements. 

The last step is a loya Jirga that would take the final decision about the political and military agreements, convened no later than one year after the political and military agreements have been concluded. 

Hezb-e Islami’s plan consists of three sections: 

  • reaching a political consensus between the main political parties;
  • the establishment of an authoritative body (a high peace council) and a negotiation team); 
  • and peace negotiations;

For this, it foresees the following requirement: 

  • that the negotiations take place without “any foreign presence or mediation” within Afghanistan or in an impartial country (which has not been directly or indirectly involved in the Afghan war). 
  • the formation of an interim government (more on this under the institutional arrangement). 

Hezb-e Islami calls for a series of pledges to be made by all the groups involved. These include: 

  • an agreement on a ceasefire;
  • the unconditional and speedy release of all prisoners regardless of their political or combat status;
  • the integration of combatants into the national security apparatus at the earliest. 

According the plan, until such integration, there should be a monetary compensation structure to meet the financial needs of the combatant group. It warns that if such a structure is not put in place, internal and external spoilers will find cheap mercenaries among these combatants.

Mehwar-e Mardom proposes a four-step process corresponding to three bodies outlined above, plus an international conference: 

  • agreements by the negotiation team as a result of negotiations by the Taleban (without specifying what those agreements should be);
  • approval by the national peace council of those agreements;
  • an international conference;
  • approval by a loya jirga of those agreements.  

The international conference, attended by regional and other relevant countries and international organisations involved in Afghanistan, should:

  • guarantee the implementation of peace agreements (especially the “big” countries); 
  • pledge non-interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, including on the use of Afghan soil for sabotage and proxy activities (the neighbours); 
  • In return, Afghanistan should commit itself to not allowing any country’s military or terrorist organisation use its soil for the purposes of harming other countries. It would also not join any treaty which could compromise its neutrality (be-tarafi). 

C) Power sharing arrangements

The Afghan government has not made public any official position on the post-settlement system or institutional arrangements, except that it wants to stick to the current (Islamic) republican system and protect all rights enshrined in the current constitution. 

The political parties and groups’ peace plans suggest the following kinds of institutional arrangements for a future Afghanistan:

  1. Interim/transitional government

As noted above, two of these peace plans, from Hezb-e Islami and Jamiat-e Islami, propose an interim or transitional set-up with different periods of time. Jamiat proposes that an inclusive transitional government be formed by individuals approved by all parties to the conflict for a period of two years. The leadership of the transitional government would include the president and three vice presidents, representing the (previous) government, the “Resistance Coalition” (ie the former mujahedin), and the Taleban. These are, according to the plan, considered to be the three main internal actors. It further includes a “Prime Minister/CEO/Chief of Ministers/Chancellor,” with three deputies. The transitional government would be responsible for convening a loya jirga to approve amendments to the constitution, holding elections and transferring power to the next elected government.

Hezb-e Islami has also proposed an interim government, but without a prime minister position. According to Hezb-e Islami’s plan, the interim government should last no longer than a year. The president and cabinet members would be “individuals who had no hand in the civil war nor conspired with foreign troops” and they will “not compete” in any future [presidential] elections or “associate themselves” with any electoral ticket. Hezb-e Islami’s plan provides for four chief responsibilities for the interim government: 

  • implementing the peace agreement; 
  • conducting inclusive faire and transparent elections (without specifying for what), 
  • administering the state; 
  • and ensuring safe repatriation and resettlement of refugees and IDPs (there should be alternative arrangements for their participation in the election if they are not resettled by then “due to technical reasons.” 

The Heart of Asia Society and Axis for Peace plans do not discuss any interim or future institutional arrangements. The Axis for Peace only proposes the establishment of a commission for implementation of the military and political agreements as well as a constitutional commission.

  • Permanent institutional arrangements

Hezb-e Islami’s plan says that the “division of power” and the “structure of a future government” should be “put aside for now” as what is important in the early stages of negotiation is building “political consensus on our side” and “reaching a ceasefire agreement on the opposite side.” It says that no one should be concerned about the division of power during or after the transitional period (this seems to be a rejection of any power-sharing agreement like the 2014 National Unity Government after the transition). Instead it says that the constitution (without explaining whether this is the current or an amended constitution) should “define the system and the legitimate path to power.” Meanwhile, it says that any peace agreement should guarantee the country’s right to “have its political system reflect its values, to elect its representatives based on merit.” 

Hezb-e Islami is known to support a strong presidential system. (In this framework, it also gives a role to political parties.) Upon his return on 4 May 2017, Hekmatyar, for instance, told a welcoming ceremony in the presidential palace that the parliamentary system (ie with a symbolic or weak president) was not appropriate for the country (media report here). In January 2019 when he registered his nomination as presidential candidate, he said “Only a strong centralized presidential system can salvage Afghanistan.” This was a response to some other candidates calling for parliamentary (Dr Abdullah) or federal (leader of National Congress Party Latif Pedram) system (media report here).  

Jamiat, in contrast, calls for a modification of the current presidential system towards more of “a participatory management structure between the president, vice-presidents, prime minister and his [sic] deputies” (ie a weakening of the current overriding position of the president) to “address the political and civic demands of Afghanistan’s multicultural and multi-ethnic society.” According to Jamiat’s plan, both the president and prime minister and their deputies should derive their legitimacy from “an election result derived from the actual will of the people for the period of five years” and thus there should be an eight-member presidential ticket: 

  • a presidential candidate with three running-mates;
  • and a prime ministerial candidate with three deputies.

In practice this would be comparable to Dr Abdullah’s 2019 ticket. He officially registered himself with two running-mates, but when he launched his campaign, he introduced Anwar al-Haq Ahadi, former minister of finance and of commerce, as his potential chief executive, with three deputies. Had the chief executive been a formal position in the constitution and thus registered with the Independent Election Commission, the people would, in fact, have voted for Ahadi and his deputies in addition to Abdullah and his running-mates.

Jamiat’s plan also says that there would be “a hierarchal order” between the president and the prime minister. This, in fact, would factually reduce the prime minister’s weight to that of another vice-president. Jamiat’s plan also provides a sample division of power between the president and prime minister. 

  • Local governance

In addition to its call for the creation of a prime minister’s post, Jamiat’s plan also calls for the election of provincial and district governors. It suggests that district governors should be elected simultaneously with the district councils. Regarding the provincial governors, the plan proposes a complex and lengthy method: provincial council members and MPs from a given province agree on a list of candidates for the position, one of whom will then be picked by the president in consultation with the prime minister and his deputies (it does not say whether their agreement is required). Under the current constitution, there are seven types of elections with different tenures, including provincial and district council elections (although district council elections have never been held (AAN reporting here). Both provincial and district governors are appointed by the president.

Jamiat’s plan for a power-sharing executive (and to an extent devolved centre-province relations) represents a power sharing preference among dominant ex-mujahedin Tajik politicians. For instance, in his negotiations to form a National Unity Government in 2014, Dr Abdullah secured a newly established post of the chief executive, which was supposed to be upgraded to “an executive prime minister” by amending the constitution (but failed to make it happen (AAN reporting here). He also introduced a chief executive position with three deputies to be part of his electoral ticket in the 2019 presidential election. As AAN reported, “Abdullah’s move addressed what is seen as a necessity in Afghanistan’s highly factionalised and ethnicised political landscape: to have a representative of each major ethnic group on a ticket to appeal to voters of these particular groups. His ticket was still missing a Pashtun.” 

Also Ahmad Massud, son of late Ahmad Shah Massud, who announced that he was assuming his father’s leadership mantle in September 2019 (media reports here and here), weighed in on this in an opinion piece published in the New York Times on 14 April 2020. He complained that the 2014-20 National Unity Government had “had an opportunity to make progress on better power-sharing and accountability” but that “the political leadership invested in maintaining the status quo” thwarted such a reform. Massud also called for empowering Afghan people “by allowing them to elect provincial and local authorities and minimize undue reliance on the central government” as locally elected authorities would “enjoy a higher degree of public trust” and would be more efficient as they had a “better understanding of [local ]problems and complexities.”  

Decentralisation has also been repeatedly pushed by Hazara and Uzbek political factions, and it remains a key point on their political agendas. However, they will unlikely pick up the call for creating the post of a prime minister the way it has been suggested in Jamiat’s plan, ie an eight-member presidential ticket. Previously, AAN heard some of these leaders preferring either a proper parliamentary system or a revamped presidency with three vice-presidents to be endowed with clear and specific authorities. 

There has also been discussion by certain Pashtun politicians about the position of a prime minister. For example, Muhammad Hanif Atmar, the current acting minister of foreign affairs, when still a candidate in the 2019 presidential election (he later dropped out), said in an interview with Tolonews on 20 July 2019 that, “for the betterment of governance affairs [and] considering the successful experience of His Majesty’s reign [referring to the same system in place under King Muhammad Zaher (1933–73)], we will, by amending the constitution, create the post of a prime minister who will be appointed and dismissed by the president” (AAN reporting here). This, however, could have been electoral tactics rather than a genuine acceptance of the demand for such a post.

The Heart of Asia Society and the Axis for Peace have both avoided proposing any specific arrangements for power sharing or changing the structure of the top echelons of the Afghan state. They instead focus on the process for deciding such arrangements through a constitutional commission. For instance, the Axis for Peace proposes that such a commission be established within two months after the signing of the peace agreement. It also proposes some conditions that should be kept when the constitution is reviewed, for example, that the proposed amendments should avoid the dissolution of any national institution, especially military and security agencies. It also said that, in general, any reform should be “in the interest of citizens’ rights,” and any change to the state structure should not harm the integrity or unity of the country (it does not mention the republican system, though). The proposal also stipulates that the constitutional commission should recommend the establishment of a diwan (court) for interpretation and overseeing of the implementation of the constitution. (There already is a commission for overseeing the implementation of the constitution under article 157 of the current constitution but it is rather weak, see AAN reporting here.

  • Advisory bodies 

Jamiat proposes a 30-member national élite council to advise on the formulation of important national and state decisions. This will be comprised of leaders of political parties, traditional, influential and national figures, somewhat similar to the informal ‘jihadi leaders’ shura under Karzai. It is not clear from the plan, but it seems that it is intended to be part of the post-settlement institutional arrangement and might be aimed at accommodating various political figures as well as senior Taleban leaders. Earlier, Muhammad Omar Daudzai, Ghani’s 2019 campaign manager and former head of the High Peace Council secretariat, had suggested creating a powerful new religious council to accommodate the Taleban in some future political set-up (AAN reporting here). He wrote: 

At present, we have an informal organization called the Council of Clerics. It is ethnically and geographically inclusive but they are seen as a tool at the president’s hand. Their status is not reflected in the constitution. If this council is more formalized and reflected in the constitution and is led by the title of Mufti Azam (highest official of religious law), the Taliban and their followers would have achieved what they wanted since they would be able to see a place for themselves within the Council of Clerics. The authority and the limits to the scope of the council’s work shall be reflected in the constitution and the relevant laws of the country.

Both ideas resemble parts of Iran’s political set-up, where such councils are superior to all elected bodies.

The Taleban have never publicly or comprehensively laid out their ideas for Afghanistan’s post-settlement political system. They have, however, consistently stuck to certain elements of what could constitute a future political order in their view (more details and sources in this AAN’s paper).

Deputy leader Serajuddin Haqqani, in his op-ed in the New York Times on 20 February, nine days before the signing of the US-Taleban agreement and entitled “What We, the Taliban, Want,” only claimed that the Taleban are “committed to working with other parties in a consultative manner of genuine respect to agree on a new, inclusive political system.” Taleban’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed reiterated this in an interview with Sobh-e Kabul Daily on 15 April. In response to the question of whether the Taleban still insisted on an Islamic Emirate as the future form of state, he said that this was a decision to be made in the intra-Afghan negotiations but, at the same time, underlined that “an Islamic system” was “important” for them “as a value.” (6)

Unresolved debates 

A number of debates have emerged from scrutiny of the political parties and groups’ peace plans to date, which will be important to watch out for throughout the process of negotiations and political settlement. 

Islamic Republic versus Islamic Emirate debate: The Taleban’s stated policy has so far been that they defer the decision about the Islamic Republic or Emirate to the intra-Afghan negotiations. However, they have said that there should be an “Islamic system.” On the other hand, the five peace plans by different political forces within the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan have vowed to maintain the Islamic Republic, citizens’ rights and direct elections.  A loya jirga to discuss peace that was convened by President Ghani in April-May 2019 also said “The Islamic Republic system is the great achievement of the people of Afghanistan and is the outcome of years of sacrifices and endeavours. Establishment and consolidation of peace in Afghanistan should be achieved by protecting the type of the system (Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) and through a direct negotiation channel” (AAN reporting here). Given that many warn that the Taleban might be hiding their real intention about the Islamic Emirate, the Islamic Republic versus Islamic Emirate will likely be a major debate between the negotiation teams from the two sides.

Integration of Taleban fighters into the security apparatus: several peace plans call for the integration of Taleban fighters into the security apparatus. For instance, Hezb-e Islami not only calls for the reintegration of the Taleban’s “combatants into the national security apparatus at the earliest, but also for “a monetary compensation structure” to ensure their “financial needs” are met. Similarly, the Axis for Peace calls for a separate military agreement as one of the most important parts of peace negotiations, with detailed proposals on how the reintegration should happen. It is not clear what the Taleban wants with regards to demobilisation or reintegration.

Amendment of the constitution: Another major debate, both with the Taleban and within the Islamic Republic, will be about possible amendments to the constitution. The 2019 Consultative Peace Loya Jirga (AAN reporting here) called for the preservation of the constitution, but also said “if needed, an amendment to some of its articles through principled (…) mechanisms [ie the loya jirga envisaged] in this law is possible, after a peace agreement.” 

Jamiat’s plan says that the second chapter, ie fundamental rights and duties of the citizens, of the constitution is non-negotiable. This corresponds with the call by the 2019 Loya Jirga, which said: 

The fundamental rights of the citizens, enshrined in the constitution of Afghanistan, including the rights of women and children, political and civil right to participation, the right to freedom of expression, the right to education and labour, the right to access public services as well as the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, people with disability, heirs of martyrs, as the fundamental pillars of consolidation of peace, should be preserved and strengthened in the peace process. 

Jamiat’s plan mainly calls for amendments to articles related to the political system within the two-year transitional period. The Heart of Asia Society expects amendments to the constitution as it calls for a designated working group. Similarly, the Axis for Peace envisages a constitutional commission to prepare the draft amendments given that the Taleban and political parties will likely call for amending the constitution. It says that the amendments should be drafted within six months after the implementation of the agreement. It does not recommend or demand any specific amendments, except for the establishment of a constitutional court to interpret and oversee the implementation of the constitution. However, it stipulates that any amendment should preserve the national security institutions. This is also in sync with the recommendation by the 2019 Loya Jirga. 

Steps and authorities: these peace plans mainly suggest the following steps: negotiation, agreements, interim government, a loya jirga and elections. Most agree on two major bodies: a team of negotiators to negotiate with the Taleban and a national/high council of peace/reconciliation. According to these plans, the council will have a more authoritative role and approve the roadmap for peace negotiations. The government has already formed the negotiation team, which, according to a member speaking to AAN, has started to share experiences and work on its internal structure. However, the council has yet to be established. On the other hand, the Taleban have not stated their view of the steps in the process. 

Interim and permanent institutional designs: Jamiat’s peace plan particularly calls for redesigning the current centralised presidential system into what’s usually called a power sharing executive by adding a post of prime minister and his/her deputies. This reflects a growing realisation that the current centralised presidential system is not compatible with Afghanistan’s social and political fabric. In addition to this central level arrangement, Jamiat’s plan also calls for a devolved centre-periphery arrangement. 

Conclusion

Some of the political groups’ plans seem to be intended to help those respective groups to maintain political relevance, to attract public (and international) attention and to project that they are serious players with concrete proposals. What is interesting in these plans is that all of them suggest that the government alone cannot represent the “Republic” or “this side of the conflict.” The plans are also possible bargaining chips for a time when the government responds to demands for ‘inclusive’ peace structures. This might be reflected by the fact that these plans discuss more structures (into which the leaders of these ‘parties’ want to be included) rather than what should be discussed in the negotiation team. 

Two of the plans, from Jamiat and Karzai’s groups, propose that there should be arrangements for dealing with the families of victims of war or supporting the survivors of martyrs and people with disabilities caused by war. These groups have repeatedly demanded to be made part of any peace process. However, it is not clear how they will be different from the current arrangements under the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Martyrs and Disabled. 

Meanwhile, the government has already started creating faits accomplis by setting up parts of the structural framework for peace talks. It had already established the Ministry of Peace, which will likely remain in place and serve as an executive arm for the negotiation team and a possible new High Peace/Reconciliation Council. The government has also formed a 21-member negotiation team, which has generally been termed by both political groups and the international community as inclusive. It includes members of most of the groups, such as Karzai’s group, Hezb-e Islami and Jamiat, whose plans are discussed in this report, as well as others, such as the two Hezb-e Wahdats (of Khalili and Mohaqeq) and Jombesh. A high peace council will likely be formed as a way out of the lingering political impasse and will likely supervise the negotiation team, which is also in keeping with most of the peace plans. Such a council might also finally accommodate many of the leaders with communal influence; some will be rewarded with membership under the prevailing politics of patronage for their support for Ghani or Abdullah in the 2019 presidential election. However, the question is whether the council will be endowed with the kind of overriding authority envisaged by the peace plans or remain more or less symbolic in the power politics between the ruling faction in the executive branch, and those on the council with less executive power. 

Some of these plans raise real issues about the shortcomings of the current political system. For example, they demand the re-establishment of the position of a prime minister (not just a chief executive) as well as decentralisation. These issues are likely to be put on the table when there are intra-Afghan talks. However, there are large differences between the main actors, both on whether these steps are necessary and on the detail of possible arrangements. So while there might be a broader agreement on the need to modify the current power structures at the centre and the relations between the centre, provinces and districts, how to exactly re-arrange this will likely be a long, contentious debate. There is also the fear that real issues might be reduced to bargaining chips for some of the leaders to pursue personal and factional interests. 

Some of the proposals also ignore their financial and logistical implications. For instance, Jamiat calls for the election of district governors. This will further increase the number of multiple elections already stipulated in the constitution.

Finally, structural changes of the political system will not improve the situation of the population if, at the same time, democratic, human and other citizens’ rights are to be compromised.

Edited by Rachel Reid and Thomas Ruttig


(1) Some of the parties and figures that welcomed the US-Taleban agreement and called for the swift commencement of the intra-Afghan negotiations are here:

  • Jamiat-e Islami Afghanistan, a predominantly Tajik party led by former minister of foreign affairs, Salahuddin Rabbani, issued a statement on 29 February, welcoming “the peace agreement between the US and Taliban as a first step towards the beginning of the intra-Afghan talks.” Jamiat called on all factions and political parties to play an active role, saying that “the absence or exclusion of any faction can result in any future peace accord being vulnerable and unsustainable.” 
  • Muhammad Karim Khalili, the head of the High Peace Council and leader of one faction of Hezb-e Wahdat-e Islami Afghanistan, a predominately Hazara party, said in a statement (here, in Dari) that “the delegation should be inclusive and efficient. The citizens and sides whose destiny is affected by peace should see themselves in the mirror of negotiation, principles and framework of negotiations, the content of negotiation and outcome of the negotiation.” 
  • Another Hazara-dominated faction of Hezb-e Wahdat-e Islami led by former deputy chief executive, Muhammad Mohaqeq, in its 29 February statement (here, in Dari) welcomed the agreement as “a significant event about the country” maintaining that “an important step was taken towards paving the way for peace process in Afghanistan.” The party said that the “Doha peace agreement is successful only when all-inclusive intra-Afghan peace negotiations ensue and all political and national sides feel they are included in the leadership and team for negotiations.” 
  •  Sayed Mansur Naderi, the leader of Hezb-e Paiwand-e Melli, also issued a statement (here, in Dari) on 1 March, welcoming the signing of the agreement and calling it “a historic and important day.” It called for “a national consensus” and “a high peace council” comprised of political leaders, élites, women, youths, civil society members and parties, including representatives of the government to negotiate with the Taleban on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan about a permanent ceasefire and a perennial peace to save the war-torn land from calamity by establishing an all-inclusive system. This party backed Ghani in the 2014 presidential election. For the 2019 presidential election, he was first a close ally and supporter of Atmar and then joined the Abdullahcamp. 
  • Former President Hamid Karzai also called in a statement (here, in Dari) the signing of the agreement as “a big step towards ending the war and establishing peace in our country.” He said that “It is now time for us Afghans to unitedly step towards the start of intra-Afghan negotiations by consolidating our ranks.” 
  • Sadeq Mudaber, the head of Hezb-e Ensejam-e Melli, welcomed in a statement (here, in Dari) the signing of the agreement calling it “an important step.” He said that it was necessary to pave the ground for intra-Afghan talks and negotiations as soon as possible, and that “the delegation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan should be an inclusive delegation and have the necessary competency in terms of understanding and prudence.” This party supported Ghani in 2019. A deputy leader of the party, former Daikundi MP, Muhammad Nur Akbari, had first announced his support for Atmar but rejoined the party after Atmar’s ticket disintegrated (AAN reporting here).

(2) The Heart of Asia Society includes:

  • Former minister of public health Dr Soraya Dalil
  • Former MP from Badakhshan Fawzia Kufi
  • Former Herat governor Mohammad Asef Rahimi
  • Leader of Mahaz-e Melli Afghanistan (National Front of Afghanistan) Sayed Eshaq Gailani
  • Former MP from Kabul and head of Hezb-e Mellat (Nation Party) Dr Jafar Mehdawi
  • and Engineer Mohammad Asim Asim

(3) Below is the list of the negotiation team members as published by the State Ministry for Peace on 26 March, which included five women and 16 men (since then two members, including a woman, have been replaced, according to a source from the SMP speaking to AAN on 22 April, bringing down the number of women to four):

  • Masum Stanekzai, head of the delegation, a Pashtun from Logar and the former head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) (affiliated with Ghani)
  • Fatema Gailani (a woman), a daughter of former mujahedin leader, Pir Sayed Ahmad Gailani and a former head of the Afghan Red Crescent Society 
  • Nader Naderi, the head of the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission (affiliated with Ghani)
  •  Abdul Matin Bek, an Uzbek, the head of IDLG and son of Abdul Mutaleb Bek, one of the influential jihadi commanders from the north-eastern province of Takhar (government and affiliated with Ghani)
  • Fawzia Kufi (a woman), a Tajik and former MP from Badakhshan (affiliated with Atmar)
  • Zarar Ahmad Moqbel, former minister of foreign affairs (affiliated with former President Karzai) 
  • Attaullah Ludin, a Pashtun, member of the Hezb-e Islami faction led by acting minister of finance Abdul Haid Arghandiwal and former HPC member (Ludin has replaced Arghandiwal of the same faction) 
  • Muhammad Rasul Taleb, Hazara from Ghazni and currently an advisor to Ghani (affiliated with Ghani and his VP Danesh) 
  • Habiba Sarabi (a woman), a Hazara from Ghazni and former provincial governor and member of the High Peace Council (affiliated with Ghani and his VP Danesh)
  • Ghairat Bahir, a Pashtun, a member of Hezb-e Islami and son-in-law of Hekmatyar 
  • Muhammad Hafiz Mansur, a Tajik and a member of Jamiat (affiliated with Abdullah)
  • Ghulam Faruq Majruh, a Tajik, MP from Herat and affiliated with former minister of water, Ismail Khan
  • Mawlawi Enayatullah Baligh, a Tajik and member of HPC (affiliated with Abdullah) 
  • Batur Dostum, an Uzbek, the eldest son of General Dostum, acting head of Jombesh-e Melli and an MP from Jawzjan 
  • Kalimullah Naqibi, a Pashtun and deputy head of Jamiat (affiliated with Abdullah)
  • Muhammad Nateqi, a Hazara from Bamyan and deputy leader of Hezb-e Wahdat-e Mardom led by Muhammad Mohaqeq (affiliated with Abdullah)
  • Ayub Ansari, a Pashtun, NDS (affiliated with Ghani)
  • Sayed Sa’adat Naderi, Ismaili, son of the Hezb-e Paiwand-e Melli leader, and former minister of urban development. He has replaced Shahla Farid (affiliated with Abdullah)
  • Sharifa Zurmati (woman), Pashtun, former MP (affiliated with Ghani)
  • Khaled Nur, the eldest son of former Balkh governor and chief of the executive of Jamiat, Atta Muhammad Nur, and a Tajik (affiliated with Ghani) 
  • Muhammad Amin Ahmadi, a Hazara from Khas Uruzgan, the chancellor of private Ibn-e Sina University. He wrote on his Facebook account on 26 March that “It is natural that each of the members of the delegation has been recommended by one political faction and, as far as I have learned, I have been recommended by Ustad [Karim] Khalili, the leader of Hezb-e Wahdat-e Islami and the chairman of the High Peace Council as a non-party but, according to him, national individual.” 

(4) On 5 April, US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Alice Wells tweeted “Welcome widespread support from the intl community for the Afghan govt announcement of an inclusive team prepared to engage in Intra-Afghan Nego​tiations. NATO, the EU, the OIC, UK, Germany, India, Uzbekistan, Pakistan & others have all voiced support for this important step.” On 31 March, the EU heads of missions in Kabul issued a statement welcoming “the agreement by political leaders on an inclusive negotiation team.” The statement said that the Taleban “should respect and work constructively with the team put in place in Kabul as the Government should work with the team of the Taliban despite its lack of inclusivity.” 

US special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted on 27 March congratulating  “Afghan government, political & civil society leaders for coming together. They’ve forged an inclusive negotiating team for talks with the Taliban. The Islamic Republic delegation reflects the true tapestry of the nation and the instrumental role of women.” He said ” This consensus is a meaningful step that moves the parties significantly closer to intra-Afghan negotiations.” In response, Nabil tweeted

Dr saheb, tell [us] honestly where and in consultation with whom this list has been prepared? Why should a great and wounded nation be humiliated this much? Did you not share this from your address about two weeks ago with slight difference? We do not oppose the list, all of them are respectable. We have issue with the selection method.

(5) Earlier in December 2018, Ghani had established a 31-member High Advisory Board of Peace responsible for providing constructive advice to the government’s leadership, review and evaluate peace working committees, provide programme and framework for peace, and oversee the realisation of peace negotiation. He had also formed a 12-member negotiation team led by his then-chief of staff Salam Rahimi (media report here). However, both did not take hold.  

(6) Mujahed’s interview came a couple of days after government officials provided media with a copy of a “Manshur-e Emarat-e Islami (Charter of Islamic Emirate)”, a document that seems to be identical to one the Taleban prepared in 2005 but which was never finalised or published. Article two of this charter says that the government system of Afghanistan is an Islamic Emirate and article 25 stipulates that the Islamic Emirate has two ways to elect the amir ul-momenin (commander of the faithful, ie Taleban founder Mullah Muhammad Omar or, now, its current leader Haibatullah Akhunzada): a) election through ahl ul-hal wal aqd, which literally means those who solve problems and make contracts. Ahl al-hal wa’l-aqd are religious scholars and influential and pious members of the community who, according to some Islamic political theories, were qualified to choose the best person as leader (AAN reporting here); b) through election of a wali ul-ahd (literally means the guardian of the covenant, but in practice the heir to the caliph or amir ul-momenin) by the previous amir ul-momenin. It also envisages two councils: a leadership and an ulema council. Mujahed accused the “Kabul administration intelligence” of having made up the charter. He said that the Taleban had only one law called the “Dastur-e Emarat-e Islami (Islamic Emirate Guidelines),”which was written and printed but not finalised or signed due to the war. The leadership had then said that the leader would sign it “after the end of fighting.” He added that currently the layha-ye jihad regulated jihad affairs (for more on this document, see this AAN report).

Tags:

Ahmad Massud Axis for Peace Heart of Asia Society peace plan peace process Jamiat-e Islami Hezb-e Islami High Peace Council

Authors:

Ali Yawar Adili

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Khadija Hossaini

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