Security

Women who have lost loved ones urge Taliban to commit to peace

By Khalid Zerai

More than 100 Afghan women gathered August 26-28, 2020, in Jalalabad, Nangarhar Province, to urge the Taliban militants as well as the Afghan government to stop fighting and seek peace. [Khalid Zerai]

NANGARHAR -- Women who have lost family members in the two-decade-long war between the Afghan government and the Taliban are demanding that the militant group commit to a lasting peace and that women's rights are preserved in upcoming talks.

The Nangarhar provincial government invited about 100 women from seven districts who have lost loved ones to the war to a conference in Jalalabad to discuss the peace process. The conference started on August 26 and lasted three days.

The purpose of gathering was to hear the voices of these women ahead of the peace process, said Abdul Moeed Hashmi, co-ordinator of the conference.

"This initiative has been launched by the Citizen Support programme of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG), starting from Nangarhar," he said.

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About 100 women from seven districts of Nangarhar Province discuss the peace process in a three-day conference in Jalalabad on August 26. The woman in the front holds a sign that reads, "Have mercy on us." [Nangarhar governor's office]

"This programme will be held in 10 provinces to collect the views of women who are victims of the war so that their demands can be addressed at the government level," Hashmi added.

"The demands of these women must be considered in the intra-Afghan talks."

Demanding peace

Peace talks with the Taliban must succeed, said the women invited to the conference.

Samira, 75, a resident of Kot District whose four sons served in the army and were killed in the war along with her husband, said that she is ready to forgive the Taliban for the sake of peace.

"My husband and four sons have been martyred. They were martyred for their land. I have forgiven [the Taliban], but the Taliban should make peace," she said.

"The Taliban as well as soldiers are my sons. I do not want war anymore; I want peace."

"My grief is so intense that I even make mistakes while praying since all my grandchildren are orphans. I have no one to look after us, except for the help of God. I want peace," she said.

Niaz Bibi, who lost six sons in the war, also demanded peace at the conference.

"The 'Islamic State of Iraq and Syria' (ISIS) killed six members of my family, beheading three of them. I have dozens of orphans with no one else to look after them," said Bibi. "I want peace so that at least the remaining children can live in peace."

Maintaining women's rights

Maintaining the gains that women have achieved in the past two decades is imperative, Lailoma, 32, a resident of Achin District, emphasised.

"I studied in very tough circumstances. I am working now and want to continue working after the peace process. I do not want to be locked up at home despite my education. I want to work and earn a living for my family," Lailoma said.

"If the peace talks take place, women should be given a part so that they can defend their rights and so that we are not deprived of education, work, freedom of speech, and other rights," she added.

"Since the intra-Afghan talks are expected to start after the negotiations in Qatar, we demand that women's rights not be sacrificed but rather receive their due respect as women have sacrificed so much," Mawlawi Habibullah Jalalabadi, a member of the Nangarhar Ulema Council, told the conference.

Women have come too far to surrender their achievements, said provincial Deputy Governor Habika Kakar at the conference.

"We defend women's rights, and we fight for them," Kakar told participants. "I am a woman and deputy governor of a province. I want peace so that I can help continue this progress, not sit at home."

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All the women shown in the pictures look like to be Pashtuns. It means that Pashtuns are severely victimized. It is without doubt that Pashtuns are the most civilized ethnic group of Afghanistan, but unfortunately other ethnic groups are not target of intelligence [agencies], while Pashtuns are their target because Pashtuns are civilized. Because of their civilization, they are targeted and victimized by both intelligence [agencies] and terrorism. This issue has introduced a civilized ethnic group of the world as if there is more terrorism in their region. Looking back at the past forty years, Pashtuns have not invaded any [nation]; however, first the Soviet Union, then Pakistan in the form of Taliban and terrorism and then even Americans invaded Pashtuns. Another reason is that Pashtuns consider themselves owners of Afghanistan and they consider this country their home; however, the minority groups are not like them and that is why Pashtuns are attacked more. Regards

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Afghanistan is like a hell for the women of this country. Women of this country are the main victims of the wars, because every man who is killed in Afghanistan is husband, brother and son of a woman. These are the women who live a difficult life after the death of their husbands, brothers and sons. Moreover, these Afghan women are the victims of poverty and hunger. They live in poverty. Afghan women raise their children in famine and hardship. After bringing up their children, they see the martyrdom of their sons with their very eyes, which is very much deplorable. Taliban and other armed groups who are fighting against the government must have mercy on the women of this country and stop killing and fighting.

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Taliban should fear from God and listen to the call of these oppressed women who lost their loved ones. In 20-year war of Taliban, thousands of women in the country lost their husbands, thousands of women lost their sons, and thousands of children became orphan. Therefore, Taliban must use the opportunity provided for peace and come to the peace process and work for the development and progress of their country. People have no patience anymore; they have been very tired of war. If this war continues for another decade, there will be a humanitarian crisis in this country. War is enough; we want peace.

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Women are our sisters, mothers and daughters. The honor that Islam has given to women cannot be seen in any laws of the world, but unfortunately, the women who raise their voices today on behalf of the Afghan women, some of whom are Iranian mercenaries who work as lawyers, ministers and party leaders inside the government, and they can never represent the women of our country.

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I do not agree with you, because Afghan women have never been mercenaries of the foreigners. These were you men who were sometimes the slaves of Russia and sometimes the slaves of the United States. Sometimes you spy for Iran and sometimes for Pakistan. You men ruined this country. Now you come and say that women are like this and that. Can you show a female crime in the length of history? You can never prove a case of female treason and espionage. We women always raised our voices. Everything you men did, we did not say anything. Now you are used to it and you come and insult women.

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