President Ashraf Ghani who inaugurated the Grand Consultative Jirga on Peace said the event will determine the framework for talks with the Taliban – who have refused to attend negotiations with the Afghan government delegates.
Ghani said the Jirga will also seek ways to end war and violence in the country and that the delegates hope to find Afghanistan’s pathway for at least one century.
“It is a pride and exciting to see that 3,200 elected delegates have been gathered under one dignified umbrella from across Afghanistan to determine the framework of talks with the Taliban,” Ghani said.
He said the families of both sides -- the Afghan government and the Taliban – have paid the price for war and that he sees himself responsible to end the suffering.
“The four days of the Jirga will prove that you, the elected delegates of the nation, are the symbol of power and national unity and you are the owners of willingness, talent, understanding and views and you are hoping for peace and prosperity,” said Ghani. “The political generation is changing. You, the delegates of all of Afghanistan, are the representatives of the new political generation and trust your judgment,” Ghani said.
Ghani said that the nation has expectations from the Jirga delegates and that achieving permanent peace in Afghanistan is his top priority.
“Let’s sacrifice small interests for the sake of big interests,” Ghani told the delegates.
Ghani mentioned that he appreciates Afghan women for their participation in the Jirga. He called on woman delegates to play an active role in the Jirga.
“Today, we are listening to forgotten Afghanistan. Afghanistan belongs to all Afghans,” Ghani said.
President Ghani said he appreciates the international community’s support to Afghanistan and that the future of the country is the responsibility of Afghans.
Ghani hoped that the Peace Jirga will conclude with a positive result. He added that the delegates are the ambassadors of peace in Afghanistan.
According to him, there is a national and international consensus on Afghan peace. He said the militants' war in Afghanistan has no legitimacy.
Ghani said he wants to create a unified stance on peace and that the Jirga delegates will determine the “direction” of the peace process.
Ghani reiterated that he wants a peace which will help Afghanistan to develop economically and cut its dependence from foreign aid.
He said that he is not in favor of “hasty” agreements on peace and that the Jirga delegates will decide on this.
He said the opportunity for peace is the result of the courage of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.
At the end of his speech, Ghani announced that former Jihadi leader Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf will chair the Jirga. The crowd later showed that they agree with this decision.
Sayyaf said that he appreciates President Ghani and the Peace Jirga delegates' trust in him for the important responsibility to head the grand gathering.
Sayyaf reiterated that women can play a prominent role in Afghanistan's future.
“The issue of ‘power transfer’ is not considered here, the transfer of regime is not considered here. The issue of invitation towards solidarity is considered here. An invitation towards unity… We are inviting for harmony, friendship and reconciliation so that they (Taliban) come and join the society and it will be the nation which will decide about the future steps,” Sayyaf said.