A number of civil society activists in Khost province have expressed disappointment with the outcome of the peace talks.

In an interview with the CSHRN, Merajuddin Meraj said that he is not very optimistic about peace talks. He added that it is difficult for both sides to reach a final decision and agreement, and it may take a long time, since the demands of the government and the Taliban are different and there are many differences.

CSHRN: Given the history of the Taliban, especially with regards to women, will the negotiations entail positive outcome?

Meraj: The very nature of women’s political participation and their activities alongside men in these negotiations may have changed their views.

CSHRN: Which issues related to women should further be considered in negotiations?

Meraj: Protecting the rights and achievements of women in recent years is one of the issues to be discussed in peace negotiations. Conducive environment for access to rights, including work and education, which Islam has provided for women, must be provided for them. Another issue is that women in large cities have some services, but in remote districts and areas, women have less access to various facilities and should be provided with access to these facilities, including job opportunities to help them become economically self-sufficient.

 CSHRN: Apart from security issues and the opposition of the Taliban, what other issue hinders the progress of women in society?

Meraj: Many reasons are involved. One of the most important obstacles to women’s progress is extremist thinking. Women will not be fully liberated until extremism is eliminated.

CSHRN: How can peace talks be used as an opportunity to advance women’s rights?

Meraj: These talks are a great opportunity for the people of Afghanistan and the opposition. Such an opportunity might not be provided again. Ceasefire must be established at the beginning of the talks so that positive outcome is achieved and lasting peace is established in the country.

CSHRN: How will the Taliban’s participation in power affect civic activities?

Meraj: If the Taliban share power, they can no longer be the same old extremists; because we have a democratic system. If the Taliban integrate with the current system, there will be no problem with our activities.

CSHRN: What guarantee is there that the Taliban will abide by their commitments after the peace talks?

Meraj: There is no guarantee that the Taliban will live up to their commitments after these negotiations.

Mr Meraj said that although the peace talks are progressing slowly and there are growing frustrations, he hopes the talks will reach a positive outcome.

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