Sada e Azadi recently interviewed Mawlawi Hanif Sha, Head of Khost Provincial Peace Council.
SeA: First of all, can you provide us with some information about the major activities of provincial peace council?
Mawlawi Hanif Shah: Our primary mission is to send a message of peace to the armed opponents in Khost province. We explain to them why they should join the peace process and the benefits of peace for themselves, their families and their society. Our second task is to find solutions to tribal conflicts and to resolve long standing differences between different tribes. We have recently persuaded two armed groups to join the peace process, and resolved several tribal conflicts in the province.
SeA: How many insurgents have joined the peace process in Khost province?
Mawlawi Hanif Shah: In the last couple of months 18 insurgents have joined the peace process, one group of 13 from Tani district and 5 more armed opponents from other districts of Khost.
SeA: Who were these people who decided to join the peace process?
Mawlawi Hanif Shah: The first group of 13 from Tani were all residents of that district who were involved in activities against the government and Afghan National Security Forces. They are realized that their destructive actions were only harming their own people and community. Since then 5 more armed opponents have been persuaded to join the peace process.
SeA: How do you interact with the local people in the province?
Mawlawi Hanif Shah: We always conduct shuras and gatherings with tribal elders and religious scholars in different areas. We also reach out to youth groups, students and teachers. We travel all over Khost province talking to people about the importance of the peace process to the future of Afghanistan.
SeA: What is your message to armed opponents who are still fighting against the government?
Mawlawi Hanif Shah: My message, to all those who are still fighting against the Afghan government is clear: Afghanistan is our country; we can destroy it, or build it. They need to reintegrate into society and join the peace process. We need schools, not fighting.