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What do young Afghans think about the peace process?

After 24 years of the emergence of the Taliban, it is the first time the Taliban has considered peace negotiation between the Afghan government and itself in the thought of ending the decade’s long war. Even though sporadic efforts have taken place since the beginning of 2001, the negotiation and the peace movement intensified in 2018 amid talks between the Taliban which is the main insurgent group, and the Afghan government.

On February 29th 2020 the United States and the Taliban signed an agreement to initiate the peace processes in Afghanistan. In this agreement the USA and its NATO allies have vowed to withdraw all troops within 14 months from Afghanistan if the militants uphold the deal.

With the approaching intra-Afghan talk, we (Afghan young generation) are worried about the upcoming negotiation. We are worried about our uncertain future. Can this process be a real process and its outcome guarantees a future devoid of the oppression in the past? During the dark years of the Taliban regime from 1996 to 2001, the younger generation, especially girls encountered many difficulties starting from underage marriages to honor killing, despite the Taliban’s claim as followers of Islam. Even though this is something that the majority of Afghans oppose with, as they believe such practices are much more extreme. In most part their ideology is against the Islamic religion; starting from destroying schools, universities, mosques, to killing innocent people, especially women and children. Also their ideology is not in accordance with Islam, owing to their lack of knowledge about Islam which does not prioritize Afghanistan development but rather their own interests and purpose.

Saadia, one of Afghan girls who joined school after the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, says she has gained fame in boxing. Saadia said she has been in the field for nine years and that she is preparing for 2020 Olympics in London. However, she added that she has a fear that the new political developments “may hinder her dreams”. “The situation in Afghanistan is quite distressing, specifically for me, who has many dreams,” Saadia said. “I have dedicated my time and my life for sports so that I can raise Afghanistan’s flag at international events, but the situation in the country remains fragile… The Afghan youth are very concerned”. Sharifi, another Afghan youth who still watches with skepticism for this process stated: My fear is that the current process may not result in a just and dignified peace where all Afghans are considered equal citizens, regardless of gender, race or ethnicity. I fear that the Taliban’s rigid interpretations of Islamic laws will undermine our country’s gains of the past 18 years: an open media, women’s presence in public spheres, and more.

According to precondition agreement between Taliban and the Afghan government for beginning intra-Afghan dialogue, the government agreed to release Taliban prisoners to show its conviction to bringing peace, and has also consistently asked them to put a stop to destroying their country and stop working for other countries. Yet they consistently reject this request and insist to destroying country and killing innocent people, in order to USA brought pressure on one of the biggest supporter of Taliban (Pakistan) to persuade them to set on negotiation table.

After signing agreement between Taliban and the US, the Afghan government has released more 3000 Taliban prisoners as well as orders its army against carrying out military operations against the Taliban. However instead of reciprocating this goodwill, Taliban on the other hand is using this opportunity not only disregarding the precondition but also accelerate their violence, like killing innocent people. Weeks ago they attacked Dashat-e-Barichi hospital and Wazir Mohammad khan mosque and many nursing mothers and children. They also attacked many other places killing and injuring many civilians.

I am watching with fear and hopes what will emerge after this peace talk and their joining in government. I fear that the upcoming negotiation may not result in a positive and more convincing outcome. I fear that the Taliban’s strict interpretation of Islamic laws will undermine our country’s gains of the past 18 years, they didn’t show any willing to giving up from fighting and killing innocent people, still they have been used by other countries for destroying our country and killing our imam, doctor and another innocent people, still I have doubt on their decision.

Afghan government negotiation team includes politician, former officials and civil society representatives. Our team is going to set the negotiation table with Taliban in near future. The agreement will be the best opportunity available for beginning of discussions among Afghans of Afghanistan’s future, and of peace after decades of conflict. This agreement can be a vital step toward the political solution we have long known is the only way to put an end to the conflict.

Furthermore, no one can bear to watch Taliban continue their violence in any way. Also, while we want the peace deal to be signed, it should never be done for us in a way the rights we have enjoyed in the past 18 years be taken in the outcome. Our demands from the government are to attempt to convince the other side of the importance of human rights, women’s rights and freedom of expression.

View expressed in this article are of the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Pajhwok’s editorial policy.

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