The top United Nations envoy to Afghanistan today called for an inclusive and “Afghan-owned” peace process to silence weapons and allow for reconciliation and rebuilding in the South Asian nation.
“That must be a process which includes all parts of the Afghan society,” Kai Eide, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, told religious leaders at the National Peace Jirga. “If we want to unite this country for peace, no part can be excluded from that process. If some are excluded, the country will remain divided.”
It must respect the human rights of all of the people in Afghanistan, he added. “A process which comes at the cost of the rights of parts of the population will not lead to durable peace.”
Mr. Eide emphasized the crucial role religious leaders can play in mobilizing the population in a campaign for peace. They “can and must play a prominent role in this process,” he said. “So many times over the centuries, religions have been used to justify war and suffering. But religion is and must be a powerful tool, a powerful inspiration for peace.”
He stressed the UN’s impartiality in the upcoming presidential elections, scheduled to be held on 20 August, noting that peace and reconciliation must be top priorities following this summer’s polls.
“Peace cannot be imposed from outside the country,” the envoy, who also heads the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said. “It must be created from inside… it must be a process that takes its inspiration from your culture, your tradition and your religion. It must be an Afghan-made and an Afghan-owned process.”