Recognition of the fundamental rights of various social groups, including women, men and ethnic minorities, is an issue that has been emphasized by civil society activists since the beginning of the peace process. According to these people, a peace in which this issue is ignored is not acceptable.
In an interview the CSHRN, Ismail Zaki said that peace would be universal and acceptable when the rights of all classes are recognized and their human contribution to be considered. Mr. Ismail Zaki added, “Peace in which the rights and freedoms of individuals are not taken into account is not peace, in other words, it is calmness before the storm; it means an unstable peace that will be followed by another war.”
CSHRN: What is your assessment of what has happened so far in the peace talks?
Zaki: Based on what we have heard so far from interviews between the two sides and the information that is more or less available, unfortunately the Taliban have not yet shown the necessary flexibility and the expected importance of peace. On the other hand, the group has unfortunately escalated its violence and increased its attacks in some provinces, even destabilizing some parts of the two provinces, which are often referred to as safe provinces. In general, I would like to say that the peace talks have not gone to a positive direction and are not very promising.
CSHRN: How reasonable do you think it is to expect the Taliban to change their views on the issue of women?
Zaki: I do not believe in the flexibility of the Taliban at all. In a video conference we had with Mr. Khalilzad, we also asked his opinion about the change in the Taliban, and the answer we got was that the Taliban say they are not the Taliban of the 1990s; this claim can have two meanings, one is that the Taliban have become more violent since the 1990s, and the other is that they may have become more flexible. At least in the case of women’s rights, we have not seen any flexibility from this group and we do not have much hope for that either.
CSHRN: What should be the red lines of the government in the negotiations?
Zaki: What we call the red line is first the republic system of the government, a government formed on the basis of the people’s vote because without the participation of the citizens, the government has no meaning and will return to the same Islamic Emirate. The second issue is the preservation of the values of the last two decades. The issues of human rights enshrined in our constitution, the participation of women, youth and ethnic and religious minorities in social processes and political and governance relations, must also be among the red lines of the government and they should not be sacrificed throughout peace talks.
CSHRN: What effect does the presence of women in the peace talks have on the peace process and the Taliban’s attitude towards women?
Zaki: Undoubtedly, women, as a reality in society, should have a share in all spheres and processes, especially peace, and they can play a constructive role. They can claim their rights and position in the future political system through organizing movements throughout the provinces and these moves could be a solid response to the Taliban. I believe that the very presence of women in the negotiations, the fact that they raise the issue of their role in the future government, and in general their confrontation with the Taliban is a positive point, and the Taliban cannot ignore it.
CSHRN: To what extent do you think women in the negotiating team are able to represent women?
Zaki: I believe in the ability of those who currently represent the Afghan political system, especially the three women who are present because these people have a lot of experiences; They have held various positions in the government and they are committed to the values of human rights and women, and have fought for them. I hope they can show good tact and capacity in this negotiation.
CSHRN: How will the presence of the Taliban in power affect the activities of civil societies?
Zaki: It depends on the level of involvement of the Taliban in the Afghan government; if some important organs such as key departments and ministries are handed over to them; civil activities and the formation of rallies will certainly be suppressed, but I believe that history will not go back because there is no social context for the Taliban and more people believe in civic values, and young people, intellectuals, human rights activists, women and civil society will certainly pave the way for civic activities. Perhaps the ultimate limit of the Taliban’s influence is the temporary disruption of civic activities and I think it will not have much effect.
CSHRN: How can a guarantee be met that the Taliban will fulfill their obligations after the peace agreement?
Zaki: We know that the Afghan peace talks are important for the international community, the major countries in the region and the great world powers, and there will certainly be a way to secure the provisions of the agreement. Negotiations should not end without an understanding of a safeguard mechanism otherwise there will be no guarantee.
According to Mr. Zaki, although it is too early to predict the outcome of the negotiations and to judge it. He believes that the Taliban have somehow come to believe that they cannot repeat their rule in Afghanistan. However, Mr. Zaki believes that the success of peace depends on the commitment and cohesion of the Afghan representatives in the negotiations.