News / Asia

Strict Security Marks Second Day of Afghan Peace Jirga

Sean Maroney

Despite earlier Taliban violence, delegates from all over Afghanistan are meeting for a second day at President Hamid Karzai's national peace assembly, known as a jirga.  As participants discussed how to move Afghanistan toward peace, our correspondent gathered reaction to the jirga in Kabul.

Afghan forces increased security on the road leading to the National Consultative Peace Jirga in Kabul Thursday, a day after the Taliban sought to disrupt the opening ceremony with rockets, gunfights and suicide bombers.

The 1,600 delegates are meeting in smaller groups to find a consensus for peace that jirga overseers are expected to announce Friday.

Muhammad Azeem Hanif is a delegate from Badakhshan.  He spoke to us on the sidelines during the jirga's second day.

He says he and his fellow delegates are in deep discussions, mindful that all Afghans want peace and unity.  He says that, so far, his group is not recommending that the government set preconditions before planning peace talks with the insurgents.

The government is demanding that the Taliban lay down their weapons, renounce violence and accept the constitution.

He also says that the Taliban's attack during the jirga's opening ceremony Wednesday, obviously, came at a bad time and may have hurt the hopes of ordinary Afghans.  But, he says, the people of Afghanistan will not back down.  They want peace, and they will move forward.

Many Afghans we spoke with agreed with Hanif and had their own message for the delegates.

Mirza Khan is a shopkeeper outside the capital:

He says he hopes foreigners will not be involved in this jirga.  He asks the delegates to remember the people and to stick to their word when they make a decision.

Noor Ahmadzai is a taxi driver in Kabul:

He says it is good for Afghanistan to stop the bloodshed.  But he says people are not happy with the government because there is corruption.  He says if the corruption does not end, there will never be peace.

The Taliban say they are opposed to the jirga.  One former Taliban official told us he had received death threats.

Critics of Mr. Karzai's government also say the jirga does not adequately address the concerns of the people of Afghanistan.  

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