A number of civil society activists believe that if there is no balance between the state of society and what the people’s representatives are discussing and defending in peace talks, the chances of achieving peace will not be high; Hence, the necessary reforms in society must be made as a basis for the realization of peace.
In an interview with the CSHRN, Hamid Safwat said that the lack of justice and reform in society is an obstacle to peace, but it can pave the way for achieving peace. “We hope that the peace talks would end with good results, but if that does not happen, we will have to pursue more serious discussions to achieve peace, such as justice and reform in the system. These issues could set the Taliban on the battlefield sooner. If we see issues such as linguistic and ethnic differences, we are actually claiming something we do not have in the negotiations, and this creates a great opportunity for the Taliban to be more involved in the war and the negotiations.”, added Mr. Hamid Safwat.
CSHRN: What is your assessment of what has happened so far in the peace talks?
Safwat: Simultaneously with the peace talks, the number of Taliban attacks in the country has increased, which has become a source of concern for the people. Naturally, a meeting that intensifies the war and increases casualties cannot be positively assessed. On the other hand, the invitation of some countries to the Taliban as a terrorist group shows that we have not made much progress and that the meetings have so far legitimized armed groups, including the Taliban. In any case, although there are hopes for peace, my overall assessment of the talks is not positive, and I think that the negotiations have worsened the situation and that security in various parts of the country has deteriorated more than ever.
CSHRN: What are the concerns about the outcome of the negotiations?
Safwat: Our concern is that the constitution of Afghanistan would be violated and schools and opportunities for education and peaceful life would stay shut again. We are worried that the attacks would be intensified if no agreement is done. Another issue is that a part of the society feels psychologically defeated, I hope the government would change this situation, create a new mindset and give hope to the people of Afghanistan. Given the capabilities of the Afghan government and the circumstances that have arisen, there are many opportunities that can be used to prevent a return to the past.
CSHRN: What does the intensity of Taliban attacks during the talks mean?
Safwat: I think the Taliban are creating an opportunity for themselves to gain more land and, in fact, to show the world that they are a measurable power. We have talked to some military figures, especially those on the front lines, who say that they are somehow being asked not to escalate attacks and not to increase the killing rate, but the other side is holding back and not adhering to any conventions. In the north, where we live, the number of Taliban operations has increased, with checkpoints on some sections of highways, and at the same time their propaganda has increased; These show that the Taliban want to prove their presence more in order to gain more points in the peace talks.
CSHRN: What will be the outcome of a conversation with a group with a history of misogyny regarding women’s rights and freedoms?
Safwat: The Taliban’s movements have become more systematic than in the past. In areas where the group is present, girls’ schools are closed, women are not allowed to work, and the conditions of the Taliban during their rule in Afghanistan have become more serious and targeted. I think it is a false optimism to say that the Taliban have changed their mind. Today, we are witnessing desert court, stoning, and more severe restrictions than in the Taliban-held areas. We hear through the media that in Badakhshan, the Taliban did not allow girls to take the entrance exam, and even many girls secretly came to places like Mazar and participated in the university entrance exam, as a result of which the families of some of them were targeted, captured or killed.
CSHRN: To what extent can the very presence of women in the negotiations affect the position of the Taliban?
Safwat: In my opinion, it would have been better if there were no women on the negotiating team, but the women’s agenda was discussed in a real and meaningful way in the negotiations and a decision was made about it. If the Afghan constitution, especially its second chapter, is preserved and remains in place in the future system, it does not matter who is on the negotiating team. My impression is that women’s careers will not be taken too seriously by the opposing team, and the Taliban will certainly follow their own principles and beliefs, but if the United States and the European Union use their leverage, perhaps the same number of women representatives on the team negotiate to be able to present a specific agenda and put pressure on the opposing team; Otherwise, the Taliban can persuade everyone and restrict the path to peace by claiming that they do not accept anything contrary to Islam.
CSHRN: What issues about women should be discussed in the negotiations?
Safwat: I think the Afghan constitution, especially the second chapter, which can guarantee the rights of all citizens, and the conventions that the Afghan government has signed so far, are among the great achievements that should be discussed in the peace talks, and the members in the negotiating team must defend them logically and rationally. This could pave the way for women’s participation in future government.
CSHRN: Is restrictions on women’s rights is acceptable?
Safwat: Many women became homeless in the wars in Afghanistan, many people were imprisoned and many citizens lost their lives, I think this is the greatest price that the people of Afghanistan have paid. In my opinion, what the Taliban want is very clear, and accepting their restrictions will make women relive the dark days of the Taliban and no one will be able to demand their rights.
Mr. Safwat says that if an agreement is reached for peace, one can hope for a change in the situation by considering certain circumstances because he believes that the interests of the countries in the region demand that the situation in Afghanistan to change and security to be provided.