(MENAFN - Daily Outlook Afghanistan) The history of conflict in Afghanistan is an old one. Many Afghans have been born during the conflict of last four decades and many of them have died during the conflict. They have lived under Communist, Mjahedin, Taliban and Democracy systems. What most Afghans have experienced and share in common is bloodshed, insecurity, poverty and migration.
With renewed peace between the Afghan government and the Taliban talks initiated by US and hosted by Turkey, once again the Afghans are dreaming peace and security in their country. They are trying to imagine life without war.
The peace talks in Istanbul have generated some optimistic hopes for Afghan citizens.
Afghan peace talks are tempered by an undercurrent of fear, especially among women. Life for many Afghan women has improved dramatically since the 1990s, when the Taliban banned them to attend school or to leave the house without a male escort. Now, women worry the negotiations will give the Taliban its former strength, and they won't be permitted to return to school, to participate in political, social, economic and cultural activities again.
Although the international community and Afghan leaders have assured that the Taliban won't reclaim the power it once had, and will not reestablish the Emarat, but Afghan social groups, and women remember the 1990s vividly, and they distrust what the Taliban says for the sake of negotiations, worrying that once they have power again, they will implement whatever policies and laws they want as they did in 1990s.What Would be on the Agenda?
Ceasefire, post peace elections and its timing, human rights, women's rights, participation of ethnic and political groups, peace deal guarantees and the political system are the main parts of the Istanbul Peace Conference. Further, emphasis on religious and ethnic diversity, rejection of discrimination, equal rights of men and women according to Islamic values, adherence to international principles in the framework of Islam, commitment of the political sides to reconstruct Afghanistan, repatriation of refugees, commitment of the all side to combat against terrorist groups in Afghanistan, remaining as a non-aligned country and following its principles in relation with Afghanistan neighbors and international community would be the other major topics of the Istanbul Conference.
Would the Same Mistakes be repeated?
When some contents of the US and Taliban agreement was disclosed, it shocked many people in Afghanistan and outside the country.
The agreement was totally in the favor of Taliban at the expense of compromising the gains of Afghanistan in the last two decades. As Trump's administration was not able to justify such compromises, it decided to cancel the agreement in order to change some contents. However, in reality nothing much was changed. The agreement was signed with Taliban to give them an upper hand in Intra-Afghan talks. Taliban did not act according to the deal including reduction in violence. Therefore, it is clear Taliban will insist on their unilateral demands in Istanbul Summit including releasing seven thousands prisoners of them, removing key Taliban leaders from UN sanctions before reaching a peace deal. If it happens, it will weaken the stance of the government and will strengthen the Taliban group and they will pursue one sided demands.After four decades of near-constant conflict, the Afghan people are tired of war yet cynical about whether negotiations will result in peace for all of Afghanistan's people. We know that peace will require compromise on both sides. But peace cannot come at the expense of Afghanistan citizens' rights including women's rights.
We cannot undermine the dauntless work of Afghanistan citizens, especially women to secure equality.
We must ensure religious, ethnic rights and women's rights and gender equality are central to the negotiations for lasting peace. The peace talks present a golden opportunity to build a stronger, brighter, more inclusive future for Afghanistan. We cannot let this opportunity be squandered.
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