News: Officials hold Khas Uruzgan Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program shura
Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacob Dillon
URUZGAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – District and provincial government leaders hosted an Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program shura in Khas Uruzgan district, March 29.
The APRP is an Afghan-led, nation-wide program that provides insurgents an opportunity to peacefully and permanently rejoin their communities with honor, dignity and forgiveness.
The shura served as a venue for former insurgent fighters to complete the final stages of the reintegration process and allowed new members to commit to the program in front of community leaders.
Sarkhatib Mohammed Shah, the Uruzgan Provincial Peace council chairman, addressed the shura and requested the region’s elders work together toward peace and security.
“The community has to come together and promote peace,” said Shah. “All of those on the insurgency side need to step up, join the peace program and be part of the community. Killing brings suffering to all of our villages; it is time to support our government.”
Former insurgents in the final stages of the reintegration process took the opportunity to speak about their experience in APRP.
In February, Abdul Samad, a former insurgent commander, and his fighters laid down their arms at an official ceremony at the provincial governor’s compound in Tarin Kowt. During the Khas Uruzgan shura, the men worked with Afghan government officials from the Ministry of the Interior to complete the biometric enrollment portion of the APRP.
Samad promoted the program and urged his Afghan brothers to do everything in their power to attain a peaceful Afghanistan.
“The last decade we have killed and disrespected each other. Now we need to unite and bring peace,” said Samad. “We are happy to see coalition forces and we need to be grateful and work together before they leave. Peace is here and we, together, will improve it.”
Other shura officials praised Samad’s example.
“Stop listening to insurgents and let’s listen to our government,” Panda Mohammed, a PPC member, told the shura attendees. “Come together and promote peace, present unity to the people. Samad is an example of the progress that can be made.”
The success the government and Samad are having with the reintegration program does not go unnoticed. After the shura, 41 former insurgent fighters completed paperwork to officially enroll in APRP.
Samad said by talking to the people about his own experience in the peace process, he encourages others to make the same choice.
“They will listen,” said Samad. “They see us happy and they want to be happy. They will also join the peace process.”
The process is very thorough and takes time, but in the end can be the most strategic avenue to peace and security in Afghanistan,” said Cmdr. Mike Hayes, Special Operations Task Force South East commander.
“Today’s event looks like a routine shura on the outside,” said Hayes. “But behind the scenes, coalition special operations forces have been working hand-in-hand with district and provincial leadership and Samad for months. We cannot rush things like this; our partnership with Afghan leadership in facilitating peace takes time. When men like Samad lay down their arms and commit to peace, the entire country of Afghanistan takes a huge step forward toward a bright future.”