Political Landscape

Warlords’ Peace Council


After a series of announcements that the members of the High Peace Council would soon be announced, and a considerable delay reportedly about who should chair the council – a question that is still open – the names of 68 members were finally released today (with apparently two more still to be added). Looking at the list, AAN’s Senior Analysts Martine van Bijlert and Thomas Ruttig find the council’s composition no surprise, but a disappointment all the same.

First impressions: This is the old crowd. Where is the innovation, the good will, the promise of more inclusiveness demanded by such a controversial issue as ‘reconciliation’? Instead these are the same people who are always invited to ‘the palace’ for consultations anyway – the ‘Karzai coalition’.
The list that was released includes most of the heavy-weight former jehadi and anti-Taleban leaders (numbers 1 to 6, followed by Dostum’s deputy and the head of the Afghan part of the Ismaili sect-cum-militia); several – but not all – regional strongmen (Ismail Khan and Haji Din Mohammad, but not Dostum, Atta or Gul Agha Sherzai); the leaders of the registered and above-ground Hezb-e Islami wing and of some of the Jihadi splinter groups (Arghandiwal, Waqad, Salekzada); a good handful of the so-called ‘reconciled Taleban’ (Arsala Rahmani, Mujahed, Rais-e Baghran, Musa Hotak, Naim Kuchi and others, but not for instance Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, Wakil Ahmad Mutawakkil, Abdul Hakim Munib or Rahmatullah Sangaryar); a large number of regular Karzai loyalists (Faruq Wardak, Assadullah Wafa, Sher Mohammad Akhundzada, Engineer Ibrahim); and a sprinkling of women.

It is also interesting to note who is not there. First of all the big names. Prominently absent among the jehadi personalities are Khalili and Fahim – probably because they are vice-presidents (although Khalili has carefully let it be known that he is not a big fan of that type of reconciliation). Also absent is the top rank of the so-called opposition (which has too often shown to still be open to deals with the government), in particular Dr Abdullah – who chaired the Afghanistan-Pakistan peace jirga in 2008 – and Qanooni. The Massud family is also not represented; instead there are some second-tier people from this camp, like Fazl Karim Aimaq and ex-attorney general Daqiq.

Civil society: not there. Representatives of the moderate political parties, who often have closer (potential) links to insurgent groups than one would expect: the same. Independent melli (national) business people: zero. No deliverers of aid and medical services, or media personalities who, as part of their job, are often in contact with insurgent actors; no personalities that can bridge the divides between urban and rural settings, and between tribal and civil society discourses – and there are many of them; no people with experience of the earlier Najibullah-led reconciliation efforts; no politicians or local leaders that have earned a reputation of speaking up for their communities or for mediating conflicts. Apart from Abdul Hamed Mobarez, there are no urban non-affiliated ‘roshanfikran’. Just an added handful of such people would have changed the whole outlook of the council. Even the royal families have been left out.

In many ways, the list is a reiteration of the myths of the jehad, honouring those who made the emergence of the Taleban seem like a source of relief, after all the excesses their forces had engaged in. Several of the people on the list are alleged mass human rights violaters. Large parts of civil society, as well as many of the ‘Afghans in the street’ will have good reasons to be cynical; a list like this signals that ‘reconciliation’ may well end up simply adding the warlords that were excluded from Bonn to those already allowed in in 2001.

This is not a list of people that have been chosen for their contacts or mediation skills. It is a reconfirmation of where the armed – and increasingly economic – power lies and where it will remain; of what kind of people are trusted by ‘the palace’, regardless of their impact.

The council, of course, is likely to be largely a formality. So there is still an opportunity to establish a more genuine contact group, consisting of second and third tier politicians and leaders, with good reputations, proven negotiation skills and not too close to the government – coupled with some proper checks and balances provided by people who are concerned about where hasty, unconditional ‘reconciliation’ could lead the country.

What Afghanistan really needs – now more than ever – is the broadening of the political field; not just a reconfirmation of the existing set-up.

 

Annex: The list as announced on 28 September:

1. Hazrat Sabghatullah Mujjadedi
2. Prof. Burhanudin Rabani
3. Pir Said Ahmad Gailani
4. Shaikh Ayatullah Moh. Asef Muhseni
5. Prof. Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayaf
6. Haji Muhammad Muhaqiq
7. Said Norullah Sadat
8. Said Mansoor Naderi
9. Haji Sulaiman Yari
10. Muhammad Ismail Khan
11. Dr. Farouq Wardak
12. Prof. Nematullah Shahrani
13. Moulvi Arsala Rahmani
14. Moulvi Pir Muhammad Rohani
15. Haji Naeem Kochi
16. Haji Deen Muhammad
17. Taj Muhammad Mujjahid
18. Moulvi Muhammad Shah Adel
19. Haji Fazal Karim Aimaq
20. Moulvi Qiamudin Kashaf
21. Moulvi Mahaiudin Baloch
22. Moulvi Shafiullah
23. Arif Khan Norzai
24. Mahmood Daqiq
25. Ataullah Lodin
26. Anwar Khan Ishaq Zai
27. Hassan Takhari
28. Moulvi Abdul Hakim Mujjahid
29. Asadullah Wafa
30. Moulvi Khudaidad
31. Qazi Moh Amin Weqad
32. Habibullah Fawzi
33. Muhammad Akbari
34. Abdulhadi Arghandiwal
35. Moulvi Shahzada Shahed
36. Mohammad Ismail Qasemyar
37. Amir Mohammad Agha
38. Faqir Mohammad Khan
39. Mohammad Yousaf Waezee
40. Ghani Khan Tokhi
41. Senator Shir Mohammad Akhondzada
42. Haji Amanullah Atmanzi
43. Abdulwahid Baghrani
44. Khalifa Qazal Aiaq
45. Moulvi Qalamudin
46. Eng. Ibrahim Speenzada
47. Haji Mosa Khan Hotak
48. Moulvi Salek zada
49. Ms. Sara Surkhabi
50. Ms. Jamila Hameedi
51. Ms. Hawa Alam Nooristani
52. Ms. Najia Zewari
53. Ms. Sediqa Balkhi
54. Ms. Gulhar Jallal
55. Ms. Dr. Gulalaey Noor Safi
56. Ms. Qamar Khosti
57. Abdul Hamid Mubarez
58. Sediq Ahmad Usmani
59. Mawdudi
60. Aminudin Muzafari
61. Sayed Mohammad Amin Tariq
62. Wakil Baz Mohammad Khan Zurmati
63. Abdul Khaliq Hussaini
64. Haji Mohammad Dawood Zahidyar
65. Mohammad Hasham Follad
66. Moulwi Jora
67. Haji Sherin Khan Noorzai
68. Haji Fazl Karim Fazal

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Thematic Category: Political Landscape, War & Peace