Afghanistan Talk Series" Peace Talk"
2 jan 2021
The National Center for Dialogue & Progress (NCDP), on 2 January 2021, held the first round of The Afghanistan Talk series “Peace Talk” in Chelstoon Garden, Kabul, Afghanistan. The dialogues brought together more than 100 participants representing students, youths, scholars, civil society actors, journalists, and ordinary citizens along with panelists from the Islamic Republic’s negotiating team (Mohmmad Nateqi and Gholam Farooq Majrooh), representative of the State Ministry for Peace, and civil society actors. In this dialogue, the participants were organized into nine groups, each group discussing one topic. Altogether, participants have discussed and shared their perception as well as suggestions on nine critical issues related to the Afghan peace process, including (1) reintegration of the Taliban combatant and Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF), (2) form of the future government, (3) transitional justice, (4) human rights, (5) women’s and children’s rights, (6) democracy, (7) freedom of speech, (8) education, (9) martyrs and war victims. Meanwhile, panelists discussed the peace process and provided answers to participants’ questions.
The Afghan peace talks: Anxieties, aspirations, and demands of Afghan youths
The majority of the participants supported and asked for the reintegration of the Taliban combatants within the ANDSF. However, other participants insisted on preserving all achievements of the past two decades in the peace talks and any peace agreement to ensure lasting peace and stability in the country.
In addition to reintegration, the participants discussed the form of post-peace government, saying that “the negotiation table is a confrontation ground between two different forms of governance. What is certain is that the international community recognizes the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and its political system as a legitimate government, and it demonstrates that the country’s achievements in the past two decades are undeniable. However, they maintained that “we are dealing with two forms of governance in the Afghan peace talks; one is the republic, and the other is the Taliban’s [Islamic government], which we do not yet know what they mean by the Islamic government.”
Recognizing that human dignity is inalienable, they suggested that the Islamic Republic’s negotiating team ensure the preservation of human rights in the peace talks and ask the Taliban to stop killing armed forces and civilians. They also stressed that any future government coming out of the peace agreement should protect the human rights of all Afghans.
Some participants highlighted the significant promotion in the democratization process throughout the last two decades, insisting that the negotiating teams should protect and support the core values of democracy in the peace talks. Moreover, they maintained that we must have a unified and complementary definition of democracy in our new government, arguing that peace without true democracy can never be lasting. Therefore, the participants strongly advocated for “peace with democracy” in a future government.
In addition, they also shared their views on the systematic promotion of freedom of speech in the last two decades. While defining the journalists as the pillar of freedom of speech in the country, they demanded the Taliban to stop targeted-killing of journalists and civil society actors.
Many participants discussed the situation of education in the post-Taliban government, recalling that the Taliban has deprived the Afghan people of education during their five-year rule. According to the participants, the Taliban regime designed the education system and curriculum non-academically and based on their fundamentalistic vision. Therefore, they suggested that the Islamic Republic’s negotiating team should represent and defend the current education system of Afghanistan as an achievement of the Afghan academic community at the negotiation table with the Taliban.
The participants also discussed the rights of martyrs and the victims of war, calling on the Taliban to stop the further killing of innocent people. The Afghan people have made many sacrifices during these twenty years of war, and the negotiation team is defending the values that the people have sacrificed their lives to achieve. Overall, the youths’ perception, demands, and suggestions are summarized as follows:
- According to the participants of Kabul event, the Taliban combatants can be, and should be, integrated within the ANDSF as it helps them to take new roles within the security apparatuses.
- Any future government coming out of the peace agreement between the warring parties should be inclusive of all Afghans. While some of them held the opinion that the future government should be built upon democratic values and principles evolved and promoted in the past two decades in the country.
- Participants stressed on the protection of human rights of all Afghans, particularly the rights of women and children, and the Islamic Republic’s negotiating team should seriously insist on preservation of human rights as a key achievement of the past two decades.
- Freedom of speech should be promoted and protected not only in the peace talks but also in any future government. Meanwhile, majority of the participants demanded the Taliban to stop targeted killing of journalists.
- The participants stressed on preservation of the current educational system and curriculum.
- The participants also underscored the need to protection of the rights of war victims and disabled in the peace talks and the future government.
- A number of participants stressed on implementation of transitional justice, saying that those responsible for committing violations of human rights, crime against humanity, and laws of war should be held accountable.
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.
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