KABUL (Pajhwok): The content of the political agreement between President Ashraf Ghani and Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) Abdullah Abdullah and experts’ views suggest that the HCNR is final authority to make decisions on the peace process and related matters
The HCNR came into being as a result of the political agreement between Ghani and Abdullah after the latter rejected the result of the 2019 presidential elections, alleging fraud and rigging.
Political experts hold different views regarding the powers of HCNR which held its first meeting on Saturday six months after its inception.
President Ghani and HCNR Chairman Abdullah Abdullah co-chaired the Saturday’s meeting at the Presidential Palace.
On August 29, 2020, President Ashraf Ghani announced the HCNR under chairmanship of Abdullah Abdullah. The president also decreed the leadership and political committee members of the council. The members are divided in four categories — 19 non-governmental figures, nine government figures, eight women members and 10 leadership members.
Among the non-government faces are former President Hamid Karzai, Jihadi Leader Abdul RabRasoulSayyaf, HIA supreme leader GulbuddinHikmatyar, Abdul KarimKhalili, Mohammad Mohaqiq, Abdul Rashid Dostum, Mohammad YounisQanoni, SalahuddinHikmatyar, Mohammad Ismael Khan, Atta Mohammad Noor, Syed Hamid Gilani, ZabihullahMujadidi, Syed Mansour Naderi, EnatyatullahShahrani, Eng. Mohmamd Khan, Dr. SadiqMudabir, Mohamma Ismael Ghazanfar and MaulviKhudidad. The head of Ulema Council name was also mentioned but not written in the decree.
The governmental figures in the HCNR include the names of Presidential Deputies Saleh and Danish and followed by Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar, Wolesi Jirga Chairman Mir Rahman Rahmani, Senate Chairman Fazal Hadi Muslimyar, Presidential Advisor Haji Almas Zahid and Mulvi Jora Tahiri and State Minister for Peace Affairs.
Safia Sediqi, Najiba Ayubi, Mari Akrami, Zia Gul Rezae, Alya Yalmaz, Farida Moman, Sherin Oriakhel and ZarqaYaftali are women members of the council. Abdullah Abdullah, Abdul Salam Rahimi, Enayatullah Farahmand, Asadullah Saadati, Eng. Zahra Mutahri, Attaullah Saleem, Haji Din Mohammad, Mohammad Akram Khapalwak, Mohammad Masoum Stanikzai and Anwar ulHaq Ulomi are leadership committee members of the council.
After HCNR member’s announcement, Abdullah rejected the structure and stated that in line with the political agreement, it was his authority to compose the council.
After consultations, the names of Rahmatullah Nabil, Syed IshaqGilani, Farkhuda Zahra Naderi and Shahzada Shahid’s were also added to the leadership committee, but a well-placed source said government apposed the inclusion of Nabil and Gilani one day prior to the inaugural meeting of the council when invitation letters had not been dispatched to them.
The NHRC should hold authority for final decisions on peace
At Saturday’s meeting, Abdullah said the philosophy behind the inception of this council was taking final decisions and developing political consensus on peace process.
Spokesperson for HCNR Faridon Khwazon said the council administered matters relating to peace process and taking final decisions. He said final decisions would be a collective thing in which all parties would be involved.
Mohammad Younis Qanoni, HCNR member and former member of Wolesi Jirga, during his speech at the Saturday meeting, stressed on the need for a single address to take decisions regarding peace process and added: “I emphasize final decisions regarding peace process should be logically and meaningfully transferred to the HCNR.”
Hafeez Mansour, member of the Afghan government negotiating team during an exclusive interview with 1TV regarding the power and authority of HCNR, said: Presidential Palace has no powers of its own. In line with Ghani and Abdullah political agreement, the negotiating team should respond to the HCNR. I want to say this again that the source which shall decide about the pros and corns of peace process is the HCNR.”
Head of the Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) Gulbuddin Hikmatyar and Head of the Jamiat-e-Islami Afghanistan (JIA) Salahuddin Hikmatyar did not attend the inaugural meeting of the HCNR.
Hikmatyar said: “We have some questions. Who picked members of this council? With whom their appointment was consulted? Is this selection is on the basis of 50/50 percentage between the two teams? Is HCNR is the final body on peace process or it just offers guidance and the final decision would be in the hands of the Presidential Palace.”
He said if his questions were answered and a powerful high decision making council was created which have the authority to take final decision on all national issues, then his party would take an reasonable decision regarding participation in its huddles.
JIA Spokesperson Abdul Fatah Ahmadzai said Salahuddin Rabani did not participate in the inaugural meeting of the HCNR because the body held no authority to take decision on the peace process.
People will take the final decision:
President Ashraf Ghani in his remarks in Saturday’s meeting stressed better management of the peace process in order to ensure continuation of the system and said implementation of peace, empowerment of state institutions and getting regional consensus was vital in this regard.
He did not remark directly on the powers of the HCNR, but by mentioning the implementation of peace he might mean that any final decision on the peace process would be referred to the government which would make such decisions.
Presidential Spokesperson SediqSediqi said that the government and HCNR administered the peace process and final decision on the terms of a peace agreement and power sharing with the Taliban was the prerogative of the people of Afghanistan.
Without going into details, he said: “The range of HCNR decision-making and limits of the Presidential Palace power and authority are clear.”
Government Chief Negotiator MasoumStanikzai during talks with National Radio Television said when he was asked to share latest developments in peace talks with Presidential Palace of Sapedar Palace, Stanikzai said: “There is need that we should differentiate between the Presidential Palace and Sapedar Palace. This is made clear in principle —- this a technical issue with whom the negotiating team shares latest development in peace process.”
Political Agreement: HCNR decision is final:
Article three of the Political Agreement between Ghani and Abdullah says that decisions and endorsements of HCNR are final. The council will endorse and lead matters relating to peace process.
According to this article, the negotiating team would perform its duty according to the directions of the HCNR leadership and the team will implement instructions and strategies of the council and report to the leadership of the council.
This article also includes that the president would summon the consultative meeting of the HCNR when needed.
GulRahmanQazi, head of the Commission Monitoring the Implementation of the Constitution, said that final decision on peace process was the prerogative of the HCNR.
“If there is need for consultation, the president can provide those tips, but authority of final decision lies with the HCNR,” he said.
Discussion and debate on the authority and power of HCNR comes at a time when government and Taliban negotiating teams after 80 days of discussions finally agreed on Procedural Rules for future talks.
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