Afghans call for cease-fire as Loya Jirga wraps up in Kabul



About 3,200 delegates from across the country gather April 29 in Kabul to discuss a potential framework for peace with the Taliban. [Afghan Presidential Palace/Facebook]

KABUL -- Afghans called for a cease-fire Thursday (May 2) as a consultative Loya Jirga wound down in Kabul, with thousands of delegates having spent four days discussing possible conditions for a peace deal with the Taliban.

The jirga, which began Monday (April 29), saw more than 3,000 religious and tribal leaders, politicians and representatives from across the country gather under tight security to discuss the possibility of peace.

"It is you who will show the government the way towards peace, and the government will do what you demand," jirga Chairman Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf said.

"No one will impose anything on you," he said.


Female participants of the consultative Loya Jirga listen as President Ashraf Ghani speaks on the jirga's opening day in Kabul April 29. For the first time in such jirgas, about 30% of the participants are women. [Afghan Presidential Palace/Facebook]

While the full results of the summit may not be announced until Friday (May 3), several committee leaders said they wanted to see an immediate pause in violence, which has continued apace across Afghanistan even with various peace summits taking place.

"Every day, Afghans are being killed without any reason. An unconditional cease-fire must be announced," said Mohammad Qureshi, head of one of the jirga's many committees.

The Taliban, who were not at the talks, this week are meeting separately in Doha, Qatar, with US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.

Huge swathes of Afghan society worry the Taliban will try to undo advances in women's rights, media freedoms and legal protections.

That means that even if Washington and the Taliban can agree to a deal to end the war and a timetable for an eventual troop withdrawal, the insurgents must still forge some kind of accord with Afghan politicians and tribal elders before an enduring cease-fire could kick in.

"We don't want such a peace that women's rights are not respected, freedom of expression are not ensured, elections are not held," committee member Faizullah Jalal told the summit.

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