Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

Afghan Peace Talk Red Line

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Afghan Peace Talk Red Line

In the eve of the new round of face-to-face talks with Taliban in Doha, Qatar, concerns are raised among many ordinary Afghans, particularly women, against whom many restricted rules were imposed by the Taliban when the group was in power in Afghanistan nearly two decades ago.  When they took over the power in 1995, women were the first group who were put in cage depriving from social and educational activities. Schools got to be merely for boys and no woman could step out except she was fully covered until ankle-length Hijab. They were not allowed to work and they were only like dolls behind walls. On Sunday Women’s rights activists reiterated the call on the Afghan politicians to highlight the protection of civil liberties and human rights as the red lines when talking peace with the Taliban. Suffered by decades of war and violence, the Afghan women are now hoping that the peace talks between the Taliban and other parties involved in the conflict should not compromise on the achievements the country has made in its strides towards democracy the and rule of law.
According to experts, there is a direct link between women’s education and violence but during Taliban the women were not allowed to go to school or university.  Liberty, equality and democracy did stop at that time and gave way to fundamentalist, sexist, prejudice and systematic violence. Dignity for women was defined: to stay hidden and protect themselves from strange gazes. The socio-political functions of women had been cut to zero. Sadat spent four years in the male getup. “It is painful to imagine returning to those days,” she said. “I advise the families, if those days returned, they should stay at home. I advise the girls not to come out of their homes and do not dress in male outfits, because in that case, one forgets herself. For four years, you desire to put nail color or you want to comb your hair, you want to wear the dress other girls wear, but when you cannot do all that, you take all your desires to grave,” she explained.
Other women are also concerned due to the reason that leaders demand changes to the Constitution of Afghanistan which also involves women’s rights and other civil liberties and the establishment of a Taliban-style governance system which is not acceptable.  In previous month, at least 700 women from around the country attended women’s national conference on peace in Kabul and released a 15-article declaration which reflects their stance on the peace. A ceasefire between the warring parties making a sustainable peace, preserving the achievements of the past 18 years, enforcing the law against strongmen, fighting corruption and supporting the Afghan armed forces were part of the declaration. The declaration calls on the warring parties to immediately announce a ceasefire and continue peace talks.
Given the persistent concerns, the government has repeatedly assured women that their rights will not be affected negatively in peace deal with Taliban. As the Afghan governments are not directly involved in the peace process its pledges could not mitigate their concerns. However, American officials hope to persuade the Taliban to sit down with Afghan officials, who they have so far refused to do, and issues like the Constitution, which guarantees women’s rights, would be on the table then. Women comprise half of the society, and more vulnerable by Taliban. Hence, their rights and freedom must not be dealt at any cost.  The government is responsible to safeguard all democratic values including the women rights and freedom of expressions have been attained within last 18 years by sacrifices of numerous national security forces.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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