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News | June 4, 2012

Key Helmand members, ANA soldiers meet, discuss peace, reintegration program

By Master Sgt. Grady Fontana , 1st Marine Division

SHORABACK, Afghanistan (June 4, 2012) — About 130 Afghan citizens and Afghan National Army soldiers gathered here, June 3, 2012, to participate in an Afghan Peace and Reintegration Program seminar to discuss program implementation in Helmand province as part of a recent mandate that all government institutions in Afghanistan support the APRP.

The APRP is an Afghan-led peace program and aims to remove insurgents out of the fight and return them to their communities with honor and dignity to live peaceful and productive lives. This particular program is being driven by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as part of a Presidential decree published, June 29, 2010.

This seminar was hosted by the Commander of the ANA 215th Corps, Maj. Gen. Sayed Malouk, and included staff and officers of the 215th Corps and representatives from the Helmand Provincial Peace Committee, provincial- and national-level Joint Secretariat Team, and other key officials from Helmand province and Kabul.

“In today’s seminar, the delegation had come from many areas,” said Malouk. “The Peace and Reintegration Program objectives they bring with them, the ideas they had, was delivered to our unit commanders so those commanders can pass it to the troops who can then deliver it to the people.” 

The delegates from Kabul and Helmand province delivered speeches that expressed the importance of the ANA in the APRP process.

“Afghan National Security Forces are the backbone of our country,” said Shah Wali Khan, chief of the Provincial Peace Council of Helmand province, through a translator, while addressing a crowd of 215th Corps officers. “We support you, we’re proud of you, and we have your back. You guys are our brothers.”

Malouk emphasized that the public and the ANA have a common goal—peace. He added the ANA soldiers and Afghan civilian are exposed daily to the danger of war.

“They’re tired of war,” said Malouk. “They’re frustrated, they no longer want to be in this war. This (war) is something that’s been imposed by other people from beyond this country; and the Afghan (insurgents) who have been fighting against the ANSF, they themselves have been victims of this war. They have been encouraged by those others.”

Members of the ANA, right down to the lowest levels of leadership, have been charged with reaching out from the nearest to the farthest villages, conducting shura’s to spread the message and ideas contained in the APRP. Shura’s are similar to town hall meetings where tribal elders and citizens can communicate or air grievances to those present at the shura, and help reach resolution.

Brigadier Gen. Ghulam Farooq, deputy commander, 215th Corps, added that the APRP is a process for everybody. “It’s not just for the military or civilians,” he emphasized. “We’ve had continuous war in this country, we’re tired of war and we wish for peace.”

During his inauguration speech in November 2009, President Hamid Karzai declared the central priority for GIRoA was peace and national reconciliation. The APRP was developed based on the recommendations of more than 1,600 broadly representative delegates to the Consultative Peace Jirga, June 2010. Karzai declared that GIRoA would implement the Jirga’s recommendation.

In addition to providing insurgents a peaceful alternative to combat, the APRP provides a monthly incentive for insurgents to turn-in their weapons and join the peace process. Reintegrates’ can receive up to $240 a month for three months, while senior leaders can earn more. Before entering the program, each person is vetted and tracked for eligibility and compliance to the program.

“Everyone wishes for peace to come, development and progress to happen, and war to go away,” said Malouk. “So everyone can live a peaceful life and take part in rebuilding this country.”