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Afghan Tribal Elders Meet to Resolve Security Problems

By Army 1st Lt. Lory Stevens
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Oct. 29, 2008 – Tribal elders in the Tagab district of Afghanistan’s Kapisa province met Oct. 26 for a “peace jirga” at the district center to try to find a political solution to the security problems plaguing the area.

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About 250 local elders attend a “peace jirga” Oct. 26, 2008, at the Tagab District Center in Afghanistan’s Kapisa province. U.S. Army photo

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Kapisa Gov. Khuweja Abubaker hosted the meeting, which the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, provincial government officials and elements of Task Force Warrior planned and organized.

Last month, a smaller “shura” an assembly of elders who meet regularly, addressed many of the same concerns. This peace jirga aimed to focus more on resolutions.

“We have diagnosed the problems many times, we now need to find the prescription and cure the disease,” said Haji Khoshal of southeastern Tagab as he addressed about 250 fellow elders.

Beverli DeWalt, U.S. State Department representative for the provincial reconstruction team that serves Kapisa and Parwan, attended the peace jirga along with several other PRT members.

“The goals of the provincial council include unity, security, reconstruction, and eradicating rivalry and blood feuds,” DeWalt said.

Some elders at the peace jirga were critical of Afghanistan’s parliament. Others focused on the personal responsibility of the people to come to a solution themselves, DeWalt said.

Khoshal used the analogy of building a house to delineate responsibilities of the government, the international community and the people of Tagab. People could not expect the government or international community to build each person a house, he said, as that is a personal responsibility. Similarly, he said, finding a solution for peace in Tagab is the responsibility of the people of Tagab.

Some elders said that if the people found a solution for their problems, then the government and international community would support them.

Abubaker, the provincial governor, repeatedly expressed both his expectation that the people would take the lead in finding solutions to their problems and his commitment to helping the people of Tagab.

“We need one tribe, one shura, one district,” one elder said, summing up the spirit of the peace jirga.

The audience supported the idea to create another shura. The Afghan Social Outreach Program shura, due to be created in the near future, may fulfill this need, officials said.

(Army 1st Lt. Lory Stevens serves in the Task Force Warrior Public Affairs Office.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAbout 250 local elders attend a “peace jirga” Oct. 26, 2008, at the Tagab District Center in Afghanistan’s Kapisa province. U.S. Army photo  
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