Political cooperation essential for peace, say community leaders in Afghanistan’s north

SHEBERGHAN - It is imperative for Afghanistan’s political groups to find common ground and work together for Afghanistan’s future, said participants gathered at a UN-backed symposium set up to discuss ways to harmonize community-level peace efforts.

Representing Jawzjan and Sar-e Pul provinces, more than 30 community leaders met to discuss the latest political developments in the northern region and across Afghanistan, and to deliberate on the best ways to foster peace.

“The Afghan conflict has local, national and international dimensions that are beyond our control at the village level,” said Haji Mohammad Akram, a community leader from Jawzjan, stressing that it is imperative that communities, at the most local level, work together to resolve their conflicts.

In Jawzjan and Sar-e Pul provinces, according to government statistics, more than one thousand former insurgents have rejoined Afghan society in recent years, but challenges remain in these provinces. The symposium’s participants cited unemployment as the most significant factor contributing to the insurgency.

“If we are really determined to bring peace here, we need to make reconciliation a viable option and we must keep the doors open for peace,” said Akhter Mohammad Faizi, chair of Jawzjan Youth Association.

Participants at the day-long symposium debated the causes of the conflict in the north, and focused their discussion on how political parties can play a role in support of peace efforts, at all levels. Toward the end of the discussion, participants agreed that a reinvigorated approach to peace is essential.

UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides 'good offices' among other key services. 'Good offices' are diplomatic steps UN takes publicly and in private, drawing on its independence, impartiality and integrity, to prevent international disputes from arising, escalating or spreading.

UNAMA also promotes coherent development support by the international community; assists the process of peace and reconciliation; monitors and promotes human rights and the protection of civilians in armed conflict; promotes good governance; and encourages regional cooperation.