Fortunately, with our new leadership in the High Peace Council (HPC) and new strategy we have a lot of motivation to work now, especially women on the HPC. We have been meeting with different mujahidin leaders across the country. Afghan women can have two roles in peace. In political negotiations they can play a big role, they can observe to see what is going on in the negotiations and make sure that our achievements are not lost. At the grassroots level they can play a social role, convincing male members of their families and communities not to fight. We have started a voluntary network for women to contribute to peacebuilding in this way.
The majority of the HPC are tribal elders and they don’t believe in women’s rights. They look at me very strangely. The total number of HPC delegates is 63 and of these 12 are women. It is very difficult and sometimes they do not listen to us. It is difficult but it is not impossible. The big challenge is their mentality, even from the leadership’s perspective.
The Taliban are very conservative, but it depends. According to my knowledge, from the MPs’ meeting with the Taliban in Oslo, at the beginning the Taliban covered their faces as they didn’t want to see women, but at the end of the meeting they were talking to them. Their statements have become less opposed to our government’s ideology.
No matter how high the mountain, there will always be a way up! (Dari proverb – Koh harche beland basha, sir khud, yak ra darad) A group of us recently made a visit to Moscow and we disagreed with each other on the subject of a Loya Jirga as part of a peace process. I think it is not a good idea to go backwards. A Loya Jirga is an old method, an old system and an old ideology. People who are in power will bring their own people and the poor will be excluded.
We cannot fix a date or time for peace. There should be a balance in our approach, and the military can help with this balance. If President Trump’s strategy can push supporters of the Taliban to stop fighting then maybe we can see a way forward.
We will need consultative groups for the victims of war. Although some people think it is better to ignore these things and move forward.
If international partners can focus on women’s participation, this would be good. All our leaders are men, most of our candidates will be men. The international community can help in this regard.