Building Peace and Connectivity through Research and Dialogue

Launch of the “Lessons Learned from the past intra-Afghan Peace Negotiations during 1980s and 1990s” Webinar in Dari

The Heart of Asia Society (HAS) launched the “Lessons Learned “webinar in Dari, featuring three panelists: Dr. Sima Samar, former chairperson of the Independent Human Rights Commission; Fareed Zarif, former Representative of Afghanistan in UN; and Hakim Mujaheed, former diplomat of Taliban in Pakistan.

Following the presentation on the “Lessons Learned” paper, the panelists shared their views on the Afghan peace process in the past during the 1980s and 1990s, and eventually provided their recommendations for the present peace process.

Sima Samar:

During the PDPA, people were not represented in the peace process; war crimes and crimes against humanity were denied; the problem was that parties to conflict were not committed to peace-making; the cessation of aid by the USSR affected the Afghan people more than anyone else; unfortunately, U.S. stopped even its humanitarian aid after the Soviet withdrawal; the big problem was that people and particularly the religious and ethnic minorities were denied of their agency in the peace processes; women had no agency in the past peace processes, and it is also true now; I am against the idea of revenge, however, perpetrators must acknowledge their crimes and confess to their past deeds, accountability and justice must be considered in the peace process, it’s not necessarily imprisonment; today also I don’t see any sober commitment to peace-making from the sides of the conflict, the Afghan government talks about revenge instead of justice – that approach must be changed for good; Taliban’s actions often contradicts to its words; there are numerous Islamic countries in the world that embrace the education of women, why the Taliban oppose, educated women proved to fulfill religious duties far better than uneducated ones, at least they read Quran without any mistake.

The Afghan people must learn from the past lessons, and we must sit with regional and international stakeholders and confirm that what is our problem; region should show genuine commitment for the Afghan peace and take serious actions; a mediator approved by all states involved in the Afghan peace should be appointed through UNSC; UN’s peacekeeping forces must be installed for better implementation of peace accords emanated from a peace settlement; the Taliban must accept the call for a ceasefire, otherwise other criminal and terrorist actors including the drug dealers, terrorist groups, and organized crime groups would continue to spoil the process and engage in deteriorating the prospect of peace making; the policy of divide-rule must be avoided by all external and Afghan actors in the peace process.

Fareed Zarif:

Warring parties have no neutral standing toward the peace, they resort to time-killing tactics, Doha process used as a façade to buy time for military campaigns in the battlefields; what you failed to achieve on the battlefield should not be pushed on the table of the negotiations, instead they should focus on finding shared goals; Taliban hammer on Hanafi jurisprudence, which is a negation to the diverse religious make-up of the Afghan society; the positions of parties to conflict remain fundamentally asymmetrical, Taliban still wants to gain power through military means; on the UN role, the reality is that UN envoys are subordinate to the interests of the members states, and they are not independent actors; at the same time, it is important to establish a solid monitoring and enforcement mechanism to propel the parties to abide by the rules and articles stipulated in the peace accords, as the UN failed to do so, with regard to the Geneva accords in 1988; Taliban have achieved many, they freed thousands of their fellow fighters from prisons and the U.S. withdrawal, in contrary, the Afghan government gained almost noting, the same blunder was also true for the Geneva accords, Pakistan proved not accountable against its commitment in the accords, even Pakistan sabotaged the possibilities of intra-Afghan talks at that time, now U.S. wants to secure its own national interests, and leaves Afghanistan devoid of any consideration to what happens next to the Afghan people. Thus, it’s up to the Afghan people and government to take the initiative into their hands, preserve the interests and changes made in the last 20 years, otherwise we will go back centuries in dark ages.

In Geneva process, we wanted to include the Mujahedeen, but Pakistan, U.S., and Iran opposed that.

There is no change and reform in Taliban’s view, they argue that they accept all the UN conventions, on condition that those conventions should conform to their Islamic sharia.

Another problem is having more number of actors involved in the Afghan peace process, and they all have conflicting interests, we should not rely on those external actors, we Afghans must give hands together and solve our problem by our own. Until we don’t make coexistence, and accept each other, we will fail to bring peace, the repercussion will be everyone pushing for its own agenda, and if the Taliban think they can rule Afghanistan by force, this is a dream and not possible.

Hakim Mujaheed:

The Doha deal should be implemented; Taliban are a reality in Afghanistan, foreign presence in 20 years is a reality, and the Afghan people are another reality, all those three realities should be reconciled; I insist on the role of the UN, UN failed to be an effective player in the Afghan peace processes in the past, UN should contribute more effectively, taking the interests of international and regional countries into account.

Taliban will provide education for girls according to Islamic law and the national traditions of Afghan people.

Countries across the world shaped their political order based on their national norms and values, including the U.S. and Britain, and therefore, we also should build our future political system based on the Afghan national traditions and rites.