Local communities must play a critical role in bringing about peace, said participants at a UN-backed event in southern Kandahar province yesterday.
More than 100 people gathered in the province’s Panjwai district, a rural area of Afghanistan that that has witnessed severe conflict, to discuss peace initiatives from a community perspective.
The event, organized by the regional office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), is the first in a series designed to provide a platform for local communities to engage in dialogue about peace initiatives. Participants in Panjwai included tribal elders, government representatives, civil society groups and the military.
Haji Agha Lalai Dastagiri, a Kandahar provincial council member and Advisor on Conflict Resolution to President Ashraf Ghani, pointed to notable progress in the district on local-level reconciliation initiatives, which he said have led to improved government services, better access to schools and health clinics, and farmers returning to work.
Simon Hermes, Head of UNAMA’s Kandahar office, said the progress made could be an example for other Kandahar districts, as well as the nation as a whole.
On the sidelines of the meeting, Mr. Dastagiri and provincial officials visited a former Taliban commander, who recently reconciled and returned to his village.