As the High Peace Council gets closer to hosting one of the biggest national gatherings on peace called the Consultative Jirga scheduled for later this month, the Ministry of Finance confirmed that the event will cost Afs369 million – almost $5 million.
At least 2,500 delegates from around the country, 30 percent of them women, will attend the Jirga to determine the right way towards the peace process as well as the red lines for talks with the Taliban, according to the High Peace Council.
The Finance Ministry’s spokesman Shamroz Khan Masjidi told TOLOnews that the money will be paid from the Presidential Palace’s "code 91" budget.
The council on Thursday, April 4, announced that the 19-member organizing committee's structure has also been completed which is led by President Ghani’s Special Envoy Umer Daudzai.
Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhail, deputy head of the organizing committee, said delegates from 23 sections of the society, including political parties, civil society organizations, tribal elders and members of the National Assembly will be invited to the Jirga through a semi-selective process from the 34 provinces of the country.
“Government officials will attend the Jirga as guests on the first day and also will attend as guests on the final day,” he said. “Members of government do not have the membership of the Jirga. Provincial governors, mayors, and districts governors will not be invited to the Jirga. It is only the people who will make the decision.”
Lawmakers said the $5 million is a huge amount and that the delegates should be from all layers of society and represent all the people of Afghanistan.
“The 370 million is a huge amount of money. There is no transparency and it is possible that elections campaigns might happen at the Jirga,” said Ahmad Jawed Rauf, head of international relations commission of Meshrano Jirga, the Upper House of Parliament.
“When government spends such a huge amount of money and invites the people and ask their views, I hope that the government leaders should respect the consultations which will be made in the Jirga,” said Erfanullah Erfan, a former MP.
Some residents and civil society members from different provinces called on government to secure transparency in spending this huge amount of money and also secure justice in inviting the delegates from around the country.
“We want the delegates to represent every layer of Afghanistan’s society at the Jirga,” said Sultan, a Nuristan resident.
The Consultative Jirga on Peace is scheduled for April 29.
The High Peace Council’s officials said they will also invite the Taliban members to attend the Jirga.