Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, October 25th, 2020

Human Rights Discourse Will be Contentious at Negotiating Table

In the post-Taliban administration, human rights discourse emerged and the people of Afghanistan adopted two attitudes towards it. A number of individuals welcomed this discourse and tried for its prevalence. On the contrary, many others showed sensitivity towards it and believed that the discourse aimed to put cultural values and religious beliefs at stake.
With the start of intra-Afghan dialogue, human rights are likely to be a contentious issue as the Taliban are in pursuit of establishing a sharia-based system, where human rights, in modern concept, have no room.
So far, refusing the human rights discourse, the Taliban violated the rights and freedoms of Afghan men and women in one way or another. They killed many civilians, including women and children, without a tinge of guilt. Worst, based on the US-Taliban peace agreement, 5,000 Taliban hardcore fighters were released from Afghanistan’s jails, which was another slap on the face of human rights discussions. The Taliban militants still trample upon the rights of civilians without the possibility of standing trial. With this in mind, the Taliban do not believe in issues of human rights seeking to restrict the rights of women or tailor them to their parochial mindset. Therefore, they haggle over amending the constitution, which guarantees equal rights to men and women.
In tribal belts, people show sensitivity towards human rights and may admire the Taliban’s misogynistic view. On the basis of traditional culture, many Afghans are sensitive towards the rights and liberty of women more than violence and killing. For instance, honor-killing is widely practiced in tribal areas, although killing a person is similar to the killing of entire humanity according to Islamic tenets. With this in mind, women are not allowed to go to school or engage in social and political activities in tribal areas, mainly in the Taliban-dominated region.
However, there are also many people who respect the rights and liberties of women in Afghanistan. They facilitate getting education for their daughters and sisters and support them to engage actively in social, political, and economic activities. Their conscience is outraged with the violation of human rights and freedoms. They also voice their concerns about gender discrimination and try to advocate women’s rights wherever and whenever possible.
Constitutionally, women are supposed to enjoy equal rights with men and should not be discriminated on the grounds of their gender. The constitution was approved in the post-Taliban administration with the presence of religious scholars, tribal elders, political leaders, women, etc.
To cut the long story short, human rights will be debated and haggled over between the Afghan and the Taliban negotiating teams. Protection of human rights, mainly women’s rights, are defined as the “red-line” of the Afghan government. However, the Taliban seek to view women’s rights from the lens of their own ideology, which is fundamental and against moderate interpretation of Islamic tenets. If the Taliban leaders have moderated their mindset in this regard, as they claimed, they have to prove it. The Taliban militants still practice upon the Taliban’s radical ideology since they do not allow women to go to school in areas under their control.
Afghans paid heavy sacrifices to support democratic principles and advocate human rights and freedoms within the last couple of years. Men and women were killed at polling stations, on the way to schools or universities, while commuting, etc. Female soldiers and employees were killed, journalists lost their lives while reporting, politicians as well as ordinary people were targeted simply to stop supporting democratic values. But people continued their activities without being deterred. All was aimed at supporting democracy and paving the ground for their children to get education and to have their rights and freedoms ensured.
Engaging in social and political activities, women made great strides within the last two decades as they serve as teacher, doctor, engineer, soldier, ambassador, advisor, minister, deputy minister, MP, etc. In short, women have played highly crucial role in social and political sectors.  Considering the aforementioned facts, the Taliban should not persist on curtailing the rights and freedoms of women and have to respect the human rights as stipulated in the constitution. Paying heavy sacrifices, Afghans deserve the gains they achieved regarding human rights and freedoms. Protection of human rights and freedoms are a red-line for the people of Afghanistan, who are unwilling to backtrack after years of struggles and sacrifices. A peace agreement, which would put the rights and freedoms of Afghans at stake, will not be acceptable to the public. That is, Afghans will support the agreement that respects their constitutional rights and freedoms.