Elders’ role in bringing stability to Afghanistan’s east, focus of new TV discussion

24 Sep 2017

Elders’ role in bringing stability to Afghanistan’s east, focus of new TV discussion

JALALABAD - In Afghanistan’s eastern region, elders are central to resolving local conflicts. Participants of a TV debate reiterated the vital role played by community leaders in efforts to bring stability to the region.

The programme, supported by the Jalalabad Regional Office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), focused on the centrality of elders and community leaders in peace building efforts in the province.

In Afghanistan, community leaders and elders are respected figures with significant influence on individual and community actions. “Afghanistan is a country of Jirgas, no conflict can be solved without tribal elders and religious scholars’ involvement,” said Gul Miran Dawlatzai, a tribal elder, who regularly presides over and helps resolve disputes in his community. “In the eastern region, we have very courageous elders who mediate and help solve conflicts” said Dawalatzai, recalling numerous land and family disputes in several districts which have been resolved through the intervention of elders.

Nangarhar province, which shares a porous border with Pakistan, has ongoing violent clashes, with both the Taliban and Islamic State militants, maintaining an active presence. The province has a strong agricultural base and hosts a significant trade route linking Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Earlier this year, community leaders from bordering districts of Laghman and Nuristan, supported by UNAMA, organized a three-day peace Jirga to engage with local opposing groups to allow humanitarian activities and assistance to take place along the main road between Laghman and Western Nuristan. Elders, including women, played a central role, underscoring UNAMA’s position that a sustainable peace-process must be inclusive and locally led.

For Zarghuna Naeemi, a women’s rights activist, peace starts in the home, with everyone. “I would like to emphasize that every Afghan should start peace efforts from their home, from their location” said Ms. Naeemi, while emphasizing the need for dialogue as key to resolving conflict.

UNAMA continues to work with provincial councils, community leaders, youth groups, women and local media stations such as Sharq TV and Sharq Radio to create platforms using radio, social media and television for Afghans to engage in local dialogues on pressing issues affecting their communities.

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.