WASHINGTON: The Taliban can never come back and establish their emirate as the Afghan women would never accept it, Afghanistan’s First Lady Rula Ghani said Thursday.
Speaking at the US Institute of Peace Mrs Ghani also emphasised the need to negotiate a durable peace accord. “Peace is a long process,” she said. “Whoever thinks it can happen in one or two months is wrong. Even if happens it will be shortlived.”
The Afghan First Lady disagreed with the assumption that a peace deal would restore the Taliban rule in Afghanistan. “We want peace because the Taliban are Afghans and have the right to be in Afghanistan, but a Taliban rule is not going to happen, not under my watch. Not as long as, my husband and I are there.”
Mrs Ghani said that there were between 20 to 40,000 Taliban outside Afghanistan and “some families inside” in a country of 36 million people, and that’s why they could not restore their emirate.
The need, she said, was to encourage Afghans to “get out of the mentality of violence and come back to a more natural way” of settling disputes. In Afghanistan, “even marital disputes lead to wars between families,” she added.
She claimed that the Afghan society was already changing as women played greater roles in both family and national affairs. “Old ways are challenged day after day. The process of change has started and cannot be reversed.”
She said that with the help of the government, Afghan women have drafted a document of national consensus (Ijma-e-Milli), which has allowed women to come forward and participate in all discussions on their country’s future.
“Not quite sure how the process of peace is going to evolve,” but women will definitely contribute to this process, and it will be “an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led process, as nothing else will work”, said the Afghan First Lady.
The First Lady agreed with the suggestion that other Afghan women should hold direct talks with Taliban women as such contacts in the past have produced positive results. “Taliban women are Afghan women. They are not very different,” she said. “Afghan women know that governments come and go but the system (nizam) that protects their rights should stay.”
Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2019