Sacrificing Values for Peace is not Acceptable
Losing social values after the signing of the peace agreement with the Taliban is one of the primary concerns of citizens. Some civil society activists believe that any peace agreement that undermines values such as the fundamental rights of citizens is not acceptable to the people.
In an interview with the Civil Society and Human Rights Network (hereinafter referred to as the “Network”), Mr. Faqiri said that peace in which human values are ignored is worthless. He added that any group that rules in Afghanistan must respect the rights of all citizens, including women’s rights to education and employment. Otherwise, peace makes no difference when there is no justice and freedom.
Network: What is your assessment of peace talks?
Faqiri: In my view, what is currently happening in Doha should be viewed from both optimistic and pessimistic perspectives. On the one hand, we are witnessing that the political parties want to resolve their problems through dialogue. On the other hand, the extent to which the Taliban may be resilient to the will of the Afghan government, including maintaining a republic system.
Network: What do you think the Taliban attacks in different provinces mean during the peace talks?
Faqiri: I think the war is a support for the Taliban to negotiate. If they cannot achieve tangible gains on the battlefield, they will not be able to defend their demands at the negotiating table. That is why Taliban attacks intensify whenever there is talk of negotiations. This group uses war as a key tool and element to winning the talks so that the Afghan government can back down from its demands and recognize them as an undisputed group in Afghanistan. In general, the Taliban are trying to appear from a strong position in the negotiations and on the battlefield, which is very important and effective for their political future.
Network: Do you think the Taliban’s view of women has changed?
Faqiri: In my opinion, a part of Afghan society is no different from the Taliban in terms of their attitude towards women. Reciprocally, the Taliban represent the mindset of part of Afghanistan’s traditional society. We have seen a variety of cases of violence against women in both government-controlled areas and the Taliban. Their view of women is not a human one; they consider women as men’s property. Unfortunately, this view is not exclusive to the Taliban but has social roots in Afghan society. Additionally, another issue on which the Taliban and the fundamentalist movements, in general, do not change is the principle of tolerance.
Network: In your opinion, to what extent does the presence of women in the negotiations affect the position of the Taliban regarding women’s participation in various fields?
Faqiri: Based on the contemporary history of Afghanistan, many political groups have not adhered to what they said in the negotiations. If we look at the history of Afghanistan from the last forty years onwards, we will see that many negotiations have failed. In the case of the Taliban, it is a fact that they want to pursue both diplomacy and their ideology. The approach taken by the Taliban in Qatar in interviewing women journalists is a sign of their diplomacy and that they want to draw the attention of the international community and other countries to the fact that they have changed and are no longer like the years of their rule in Afghanistan. I do not have much hope that the Taliban will show flexibility after coming to power. Undoubtedly, a serious change of a group in five months to a year or two is irrational, and the group’s way of thinking about women will not change.
Network: What is your prediction of the outcome of the peace talks?
Faqiri: Although it is very difficult to give an absolute opinion on this, I think these negotiations will take a long time. The people of Afghanistan must first work to strengthen national unity and then take steps to change. It has been proven that democracy is not an imported phenomenon and must be formed within a society. The experience of developed countries such as Singapore shows that a country must first have a strong and powerful government and then take steps for democracy. Unfortunately, in Afghanistan, the opposite is true; we first moved towards democracy and then towards state-building. I think the challenges will continue until there is a strong government and until we can strengthen mutual acceptance, and Afghanistan will remain a battleground for neighboring countries and the region.
Network: What are your most serious concerns about the situation in the country after the peace agreement?
Faqiri: We all undoubtedly support the permanence of the republic system in the country and believe that democracy and values such as human rights, freedom of expression, and women’s rights should exist in society, but unfortunately the reality of Afghan society proves otherwise. In the history of Afghanistan, governments have always been built in cities while the countryside has been the center of insurgency and conflict. The causes of war in Afghanistan cannot be summed up in foreign intervention; unfortunately, social change in Afghanistan has not been balanced. In big cities such as Kabul, Herat, Balkh, Kandahar, and several other cities, social changes have taken place inside the big cities and women are active, but in the villages of the country, many complexes have accumulated. I think the war in the country will not end even if the Taliban stop the violence; because Afghanistan is a country without sovereignty for more than forty years of war, with social inequality and ethnic divisions. That’s why I do not think we can end the conflict.
According to this civil activist, some countries in the region and neighboring countries are seeking to support a possible war in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the United States from the country. For this reason, there is a concern that with the end of the war between the government and the Taliban, the conflict will continue in a different way and the people will fall victim again, which is not acceptable to any citizen.