Afghanistan Talk Series" Peace Talk"
6 Mar 2021
The NCDP organized the second round of Afghanistan Talks series “peace talks” in Herat province, on 06, March 2021, bringing together around 120 youth from different sectors and segments of the Herat population. A member of the Islamic Republic’s negotiating also took part in the dialogue. Participants were divided into ten discussion groups, discussing ten critical themes related to peace talks. After group discussion, representatives of the groups presented the summaries and conclusions of their conversations and dialogues. Finally, the participants and members of the negotiating team discussed the Afghan peace talks. The participants shared their anxieties, expectations, and demands concerning a lasting peace in the country and heard the responses and feedback provided by the negotiating team member. Overall, this dialogue brought key actors and players to discuss critical aspects of the peace talks and informed the negotiating team about their aspirations and concerns. The themes discussed in the dialogue included:
- Reintegration of the armed forces and fighters
- Transitional Justice
- Human rights
- Women’s and Children’s Rights
- Freedom of Speech
- Martyrs and War Victims
The Afghan peace talks: Anxieties, aspirations, and demands of Afghan youths
Participants demanded the negotiating teams expedite and accelerate peace talks and reach an agreement as soon as possible, adding that accelerating the peace talks would instill confidence in the peace process and prevent further bloodshed and destruction in the country. They have also stressed that both sides’ interests should be accommodated in the peace agreement. According to the participants, only accommodating the interests of both sides offers hope for ending the war in Afghanistan.
Participants underscored the need for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire as an essential requisite for lasting peace in the country. For participants, ceasing hostilities between parties to the conflict is an essential and “first step” for creating an enabling environment and appropriate conditions for peace talks to succeed. Furthermore, participants pointed out that a ceasefire would demonstrate the genuine commitment and willingness of warring parties to bringing lasting peace to Afghanistan. Furthermore, all participants agreed that a ceasefire would instill confidence in the Afghan people for peace and give them a sense of normalcy and bring relief to all as it enables them to work and travel. Therefore, the participants suggested that, as a first step towards ending the decades-long conflict, establishing a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire should be the first agenda for the peace talks. It will provide the necessary momentum for the peace negotiations and negotiating teams to move beyond rhetoric and better deal with the root causes of conflict in the country.
The Participants also stressed the preservation of the achievements of the past two decades. They stated that the democratic values and principles, particularly election, human rights for all without any discrimination, the rights of children and women, freedom of speech, education, and other civil liberties should be preserved and protected in the peace talks and guaranteed in the future constitution. In the meantime, the participants stated that the Islamic Republic’s negotiating team members should not compromise and violate Article 22 of the Afghan constitution.
According to the participants, “the current system is based on the efforts of those who are the main victims of the war in Afghanistan.” Therefore, they insisted that the rights of this vulnerable group must be respected in the peace negotiations.
Participants also highlighted the importance of education in sustainable peace in the country, arguing that without inclusive and accessible educational opportunities for all, the peace will remain fragile. Moreover, lack of educational opportunities can inhibit peacebuilding as illiterate citizens who are illiterate will not understand the value of peace. Finally, the participants also demanded the reintegration of armed forces and Taliban’s combatants and asked both parties to stop killing each other.
The main takeaways from the Herat dialogue
- The negotiating teams should resume the peace talks as soon as possible and continue it with commitment and sincerity to reach a negotiated agreement on ending the war in Afghanistan. The peace agreement should accommodate the interests of both parties.
- All participants unanimously asked for an immediate comprehensive and permanent ceasefire from both parties of the conflict.
- All participants called on both parties to preserve the gains made over the past two decades, including human rights for all, women’s and children’s rights, right to education and work for women, freedom of speech, and other civil liberties.
- All participants stressed the protection of democratic values and principles in the future government with an equal right for all men and women to choose the government leaders through the election.
- Participants also stressed protecting the rights of war victims in the peace talks and the peace agreement.
- All participants called on the negotiating teams to consider and respect the equality among Afghan citizens and encounter any types of discrimination in the future government and constitution.
- All participants stressed the provision of educational opportunities for all Afghans, without any discrimination, to enable sustainable peace.
- Participants also affirmed and asked for the integration of Taliban’s combatants within the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).
This dialogue was organized on the controversial and important topics related to peace talks. The views and suggestions of the participants were recorded and heard by the Peace Negotiation Committee. Finally, members of the Islamic Republic’s negotiating team pledged to share these ideas and demands in negotiating with the Taliban. NCDP will continue to organize the Afghanistan Talk Series “Peace Talk” in other provinces by bringing together young people and members of the negotiating team involved in peace talks with the Taliban to find ways to achieve lasting peace through dialogue.
 Article 22 of the Afghan constitution states: “”All forms of discrimination and privileges between Afghan citizens are prohibited. Afghan citizens, both men and women, have equal rights and duties before the law.”
On Wednesday, October 28, 2020, the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS) in Cooperation with National Center for Dialogue and Progress (NCDP) organized the launching