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Respect Chapter 2, peace negotiators urged

Respect Chapter 2, peace negotiators urged

author avatar
18 May 2021 - 08:06
Respect Chapter 2, peace negotiators urged
author avatar
18 May 2021 - 08:06

KABUL (Pajhwok): A number of citizens say certain articles of Chapter II of the Constitution must be firmly protected in peace negotiations.

The government’s peace negotiating team has ruled out any compromise on this constitutional chapter, protecting people’s rights.

But the Taliban, calling discussions on the constitution premature, say they are ready to guarantee the rights Islam has given the people.

The fundamental rights and duties of citizens are set out in the second Chapter of Afghanistan’s Constitution:

Rights to life, work, ownership, education, freedom of expression, electing and be elected, establish communities and parties and other liberties under the law, prohibition of discrimination among Afghan citizens and prohibition of human torture are among the salient features of this chapter.

It also gives citizens the freedom and privacy of correspondence and communications, safety of home from attack, the right to travel to or live any part of the country and go abroad.

The chapter also prohibits forced labour and provides for free medical treatment and facilities to citizens by the government.

In compliance with chapter II, the government has to support family as an essential element of society. There is a presumption of innocence. Citizens are obliged to pay taxes in accordance with the law, and defence of the homeland is the duty of all citizens.

Under this chapter, no one reserves the right to act against the country’s independence, territorial integrity, sovereignty and national unity by abusing the rights and freedoms set out in the constitution.

The Constitution also provides for the establishment of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

According to reports, questions have been raised about the peace talks in Afghanistan, with some people willing to compromise public rights and freedoms to end violence.

On the other hand, there are individuals who underline the preservation of achievements of the past two decades, hard-won rights and freedoms.

Intra-Afghan peace negotiations, which began in Doha — the capital of Qatar — in September 2020, have made no substantial progress so far.

The talks remain stalled, even though the Turkey conference remains a possibility. Afghan leaders, politicians, representatives from some countries will be in attendance.

However, the Taliban, who refuse to attend any summits until all foreign forces are pulled out of Afghanistan, boycotted the event. As a result, the Istanbul talks were delayed.

Chapter 2 be a red line in talks: Citizens

Many Afghan citizens have warned against any compromise on the provision of the second chapter of the constitution in the peace negotiations.

Ismatullah Safari, 29, an employee of a private bank in Kabul, told Pajhwok Afghan News that all articles of the constitution, especially the second chapter, should be preserved in the peace dialogue.

“As a citizen, I’m never ready to compromise the constitution in peace talks. This basic law, especially the second chapter, must be a red line in peace negotiations.”

Safari noted insecurity had surged after the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners before the peace talks began. People have since been suffering casualties, especially civilians, in every area and every day. Protection of kife is among the fundamental rights of the people.

Fatima Fazila Azami, a Kabul-based civil society activist, said the rights to work, education, and freedom of expression, which were preserved in second chapter of the constitution, should not be compromised.

“We are aspiring for peace to protect the constitution and that should not be compromised in negotiations,” she remarked.

She maintained the constitution, especially the second chapter, must be treated as a red line by the government’s negotiating team.

Massoud Akhtari, 25, journalist for Radio Naseem in central Bamyan province, said: “The omission of any article of the second chapter will be against human rights, freedom of expressions and equality of human beings. If these issues are not taken into account in peace talks, we will not have lasting peace in the country and the negotiations will be of no use.”

She demanded: “women’s rights, equality between men and women and freedom of expression must be preserved in peace talks.”

Muzhgan, a 35-year-old housewife from Ghazni City, said: “Women’s rights to education, work and gender equality should not be compromised.”

Rudaba, 24, resident of the 1st police district of Zaranj, had no idea about the second chapter of the constitution. However, she supported job opportunities and education for women.

She expressed her concern that women in some parts of the country were currently deprived of their basic rights.

Basic human rights violated: Citizens

Haji Sarwar, 50, who owns a bookstore in Kabul, believed that people’s fundamental rights were being trampled in an environment of war, fire and smoke.

Although the government and the Taliban always talked about preserving the rights of citizens, women were yet to be granted these rights in some parts of the country, he lamented.

He thought many men and women would not be able to get their fundamental rights as long as real peace was not achieved. With the restoration of peace, the rights of all people will be safeguarded.

He made clear: “A peace that compromises the fundamental rights of Afghans will be unrealistic and fragile.”

Ruqia, hailing from the Khair Khana area of Kabul, said: “In a country where war is raging and dozens of people are killed daily, basic rights of the people are not protected.”

While stressing the fundamental rights of the people, the 70-year-old called for an end to conflict.  The rights of women and men must be preserved, she stressed.

Malaika, 22, who lost her husband to a recent car bombing in the Paghman district of Kabul, said: “I would not be a widow and my children would not be orphans if there was no war in the country.

“These rights mean nothing to me. The man looking after of my house is gone and my life is ruined,” she commented.

She hoped with the revival of real peace, women and men would enjoy their basic rights, as outlined in the second chapter of the constitution.

Malaika added the fires of war were devouring all human values and basic rights. The only environment where everyone could enjoy their rights was peace and equality, she opined.

Taliban asked to respect people’s rights:

Abbas Faraso, an international relations expert, told Pajhwok the government delegation had taken care of people’s rights, including participation in election, freedom of expression and women’s rights. But that was not enough, and the Taliban had to respect these rights and promise to do so.

He noted: “Unfortunately, there is no concrete guarantee of people’s fundamental rights being shielded in peace talks.”

Faraso said: “I think when the protection of people’s basic rights is agreed upon between the parties to peace talks, a peaceful life will become possible for all citizens, regardless of ethnicity.”

Shahla Farid, a professor of Law and Political Science at the Kabul University, called the fundamental rights of the people the basic principles of social life in the country and elsewhere. She said such rights were inalienable and could not be separated from social life.

“The Afghan people are in favour of changes in their political sovereignty, but not in their fundamental rights, which they want to be preserved in accordance with the second chapter,” she said.

The professor explained if the Afghans did not get their fundamental rights after the restoration of peace, then such peace will not be durable; it may be political, but not social.

She alleged the constitution was violated due to conflict in previous years, insecurity and the current situation. The second chapter of the constitution must be a red line in peace talks, she insisted.

Basic rights must be main topic: AIHRC

Mohammad Riza Jafari, spokesman for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), said panel had had asked the negotiating parties to focus on the fundamental rights of the people.

It was impossible to achieve a just and lasting peace without taking into account demands and views of various sections of society, such as human rights organizations, civil society, vulnerable groups, especially women and victims of war, he believed.

“Unfortunately, views and suggestions various groups and sections of society, war victims, and human and civil rights organisations have not been sought on the main agenda of peace talks so far. The underrepresentation of women in the peace talks is unacceptable and worrying.”

Jafari claimed AIHRC had always emphasised on a just and inclusive peace and a ceasefire in the country.

No compromise on people’s rights:

Sharifa Zurmati, a member of the government’s negotiating team, told Pajhwok: “The second chapter of the constitution containing fundamental rights of the people. is not amendable.

“However, other chapters can be amended. We will not compromise people’s rights whether the negotiations succeed or not. We are striving to guarantee and respect the rights of all people in our negotiations.”

She insisted: “We are doing our best to protect the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and work to join the Taliban, who are fighting the government, with the system.

Zurmati added: “The government, the people,, the Afghan negotiating team and HNRC are not in favor of a negative peace. We are all striving for a just and lasting peace in the country.”

Govt commitment to constitution:

Fatima Murchal, deputy spokesperson for the president, said: “The constitution is a framework that forms the basic principles of the system. The Afghan government believes in it and remains committed to safeguarding its provisions.”

Talks on amending constitution:

Dr. Mohammad Naeem, Taliban’s political spokesman, said about chapter II: “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has been set up to protect people and their property and make them prosperous.

“We consider it our duty to guarantee all rights that the holy religion of Islam has given the people. Of course, talks on amending the constitution will come next.”

sa/mud

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