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We must look for ways to coexist in peace

Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta’s full speech at Doha Intra-Afghan Peace Conference on July 7-8, 2019

In the name of Allah!

Dear fellow citizens, ladies and gentlemen!

I would like to express our gratitude to the Federal Republic of Germany, Ambassador Markus Potzel, and the state of Qatar, as well as its special envoy of foreign minister, Al-Qahtani, for facilitating and sponsoring this all-Afghan gathering. We are grateful for your hosting and hearty hospitality.

Dear countrymen!

We have come here today to exchange views and discuss the possible ways that could end the war and pave the ground for peace in our country.

In the last 40 years, although the actors and agents of war have apparently changed in Afghanistan, one thing has remained persistent. In these fourteen years, what has not changed is the continued victimization of the Afghan people, the destruction of institutions and the disruption of the natural progress and development of our country.

We should not talk with each other believing that each of us possesses the absolute truth and that the other side who thinks differently is wrong. We must not impose our thinking and lifestyle on others. We must look for ways to coexist in peace, as well as seek ways to achieve a political framework, in which all Afghans without any fear and violence and based on their religious, cultural and political beliefs can lay the basis of a future Afghanistan through a life in freedom, peace, justice and ensured legal security. In Afghanistan, we must ensure that all its residents without any exception are equal, with men and women enjoying equal rights so that they are able to live in the protection of the law.

Such an Afghanistan, will undoubtedly be able to fulfill the implementation of our religious and cultural values merely in a free Republic. A republic in which neither the regional countries around us nor the great world powers are allowed to decide on our fate, determine our foreign policy or interfere in our internal affairs.

Like all independent countries, the people of Afghanistan possess the right to freely determine the political system of their country in accordance with their wishes and desires and on the basis of their cultural and religious beliefs. Any political system that is not supported and endorsed by the people and does not represent their will is doomed to failure.

It is natural for any group or political and religious group or any government to claim that its will is the will of the people. However, the fact that what people really want manifests only when we all in a peaceful, free and pan-Afghan competition – under security circumstances without war and bloodshed – are able to come together in a framework agreed upon which the civilized world call ‘The Constitution’ and engage in a political competition by letting the people have the right to free choice.

No libertarian and patriotic person wants their country to be interfered with by foreigners or there be foreign troops’ existence in their country.

We want an end to the foreign presence and the regional states’ meddling in the affairs of our country. Therefore, in my opinion, foreign forces must pull out of Afghanistan in a complete, systematic and responsible manner.

I have said this earlier too, and now I am repeating it here that without having an impartial Afghanistan (an impartiality that is guaranteed by our neighbors, the great powers and the United Nations) it is difficult for us to pull Afghanistan out of the field of conflict of neighboring and regional countries – given the new strategies which are recently being developed in the geopolitical world – and turn it into a country of lasting peace and stability.

It isn’t called peace when a war or a quarrel ends while giving rise to another war or conflict (by another name). We must be very sensitive and responsive in this matter.

If we can hold genuine peace talks, agree with each other on a specific agenda, and hammer out an arrangement on initiating these talks at the earliest possible, we can build and turn the peace process into an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned one.

As a citizen of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, I wish we would avoid the phase of informal negotiations and introductory talks which lack a specific agenda, and by forming negotiating delegations convert and take the peace efforts to a greater and serious stage.

Issues such as the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan; prevention of some neighbors countries’ interference in our internal affairs; reforms in the political system and the reorganization of its legal framework; the integration of all political and military forces into the community and the national institutions of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, while respecting and dignifying the will of the people; the organization of a comprehensive national reconciliation program in order to end hostilities; and the strengthening and expansion of a framework, in which women, men and all people of Afghanistan belonging to any ethnic, social or religious group who live in our country, can enjoy equal rights in a just and fair environment should make the forefront and the top agenda of our discussions.

We should not expect someone or a group to surrender to another group through force and coercion. If we really want a lasting peace in freedom and justice, we must live together and respect the rights and freedoms of each other.

This is only possible when we officially recognize ‘Today’s Afghanistan’ reality and accept that the Taliban is a military and political force in Afghanistan, and constitutes a party into the current conflict of Afghanistan.

But another reality of today’s Afghanistan is that millions of girls and boys are attending schools, tens of thousands go to universities and colleges, and thousands more have graduated from domestic and foreign academic institutions.

The number of residents in our cities has increased dramatically. The associations and centers of writers, poets, filmmakers and intellectuals are active in every part of the country. Dozens of radio and television reporters are active in the country, and hundreds of newspapers and publications convey information to people in a free environment.

Afghans want to live in a different country from the past. This is the aspect and the reality of today’s Afghanistan – a country which has been organized and formed within the framework of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Today’s Afghanistan is very different from the one 20 years ago. We must consider the reality of this social transformation, the change in the fabric and context of society and, of course, the change in the aspirations and demands of the people.

Brothers, sisters and compatriots!

Once again, I wish that we Afghans, with courage and wisdom, will be able to take a step forward and take the dialogue among Afghans into a new phase and level of the peace process.

I hope that the next round of talks will be official and with a clear-cut agenda focused on and aimed at achieving peace.

A halt to the military attacks on residential areas and training centers, protection of civilians’ lives and a pledge of not – under any circumstances – causing civilian casualties are the least expectations that the Afghan people have of us. I hope that at least our people will hear this commitment from us.

May Allah, the Almighty protect and support our dear homeland, Afghanistan!

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