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Loya Jirga for peace elucidates red lines in talks with Taliban

US respects right of Afghans to make their own decisions and choose their own future through intra-Afghan talks: Bass

By Mansoor Faizy

KABUL: The participant of the Consultative Loya Jirga for Afghan peace is going to elucidate and discuss the values and red lines in negotiations with the Taliban group, said top Afghan peace official.

Addressing a ceremony on a research about women, peace and security, Umer Daudzai, President Ashraf Ghani’s Special Representative on Regional Affairs for Consensus on Peace, said that members of the Jirga for peace, where 30 percent would be women, are going to hold conversation in every aspects of the talks with Taliban group including red lines.

Daudzai, who is also head of High Peace Council secretariat, said the members of convening Loya Jirga for peace would not represent government, and it would be held freely without any kind of influence.

The Loya Jirga will be held on 3rd of March and will continue for three days, Daudzai said.

He admitted that there is no green signal from Taliban group for direct talks with the Afghan government so far, but said two options is on table, one is military option, second is regional encouragement toward Taliban to sit them in talks.

The Taliban group time and again rejected meeting Afghan peace team, while recently held talks with Afghan political and influential figures, which are not part of Afghan government in Moscow, discussing Afghan issues for the first time in a kind of intra-Afghan dialogue.

Daudzai also has given some evidence which indicates that peace will come in 2019. Once he has named 2019 a year of peace for Afghanistan, but the expectations could further buffs up and change the illusion into reality when the Taliban sit in talks with Kabul administration.

War is not the solution and now all the parties admit that there is need for a political solution to end the Afghan conundrum, he said, while citing evidence indicting peace will prevail in this year.  

He furthered the US agreed with Taliban during talks that it would go for its troop’s pullout once peace is achieved acceptable for all Afghans. The next round of talks is expected to be held on 25th February again in Doha, where Taliban said to join the conversation with more authority.

The US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalamy Khalilzad in the recent past held six consecutive days of talks with Taliban group in Qatar, where they reached agreement based on principle.

Meanwhile, US ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass said only Afghan-intra peace talks could bring sustainable peace in Afghanistan.

In the same ceremony, the US’s Bass said Afghanistan has made a very important progress in the last 18 years. “We are proud of supporting that especially improving the lives of Afghan women and supporting the right of women to be full participants in society.”

Women of Afghanistan have a vital role to play in bringing 40 years of conflict to an end, he added.

“US respects the right of Afghans to make their own decisions and choose their own future through intra-Afghan talks. The process leading to those discussions must be inclusive – 50 percent of society who are women must be heard and included.”

He furthered that Afghanistan has made substantial progress on rights of women to live fully, participate in public life, and achieve their full potential. “US and international community supported Afghan women in that achievement and will continue to do so.”

Meanwhile, Salahuddin Rabbani Acting Foreign Ministry speaking in the same gathering, said he would never let that the current system to be dealt with the Taliban in peace talks. 
Rabbani has weighted active role of Afghan women in the ongoing peace process. “All parties must accept that women’s rights are not negotiable.”

Sima Samar, Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission addressing the participants of the ceremony on a research about women, peace and security, asked for inclusive peace talks where all Afghans, men, and women to be part of it.

She said the people of Afghanistan should be involved in the peace process and that “we had experienced in peace agreements that people were not involved in”.

In the same gathering, UNAMA Human Rights Asenaca Colawai said the meaningful participation of women in any peace process is vital necessity for sustainable peace in Afghanistan, for all Afghans.

The role of women in peace talk should be a focal point in the talks with Taliban as a number of Afghan women expressed concerned for what they say would lose their long-term achievements during talks.

Habiba Sarabi, Deputy Chairman of the High Peace Council said Tuesday that only two ladies had attended at the Moscow meeting. “Only Fawzia Koofi and Hawa Alam Noorsintani were present at the Moscow meeting.”

To slake and give assurance that women’s right would not undermine, Taliban peace negotiators have said they are committed to guarantee women’s rights under strict Islamic laws.

During the Moscow meeting, Taliban chief negotiator, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, went on to criticize women’s rights activists for undermining Afghan traditions, prompting concern from campaigners. 

The US Special Envoy Khalilzad is going to meet again the Taliban members, likely in February 25, and all hopes have pinned over the tangible result to not lose the hard past gains of 18-year with no compromise on women, and girl rights.

Ghani’s special envoy for peace, Daudzai termed negotiations between US and Taliban essential, and the process has been supported by majority of Afghan politicians. 

Mr. Mansoor Ahmad Faizy is Editor-in-Chief in Afghanistan Times Daily, and a member of Rana Think Tank. You can follow him on twitter @Mansoorfaizy001

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