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

Taliban Must Honor Diversity in Intra-Afghan Talks

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Taliban Must Honor Diversity in  Intra-Afghan Talks

After one week of the opening of the Intra-Afghan Talks, at last, the distance between the two negotiating teams started surfacing in the first session of their proper face to face talks.
One could realize from the day first that the differences in approach on various important issues from democracy to human rights might be the prominent hurdles to reach to a unanimous conclusion; in fact, no one expected it. Notwithstanding this fact, the talks were inaugurated in the presence of prominent diplomats from around the world including Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State. It took around one week for the contact groups of both sides to finalize the agenda and the principles of the talks.
The delegation from Kabul comprised many groups from many political parties, representing various ethnic, lingual and cultural constituencies, including four women from all corners of Afghanistan. Indeed, this delegation is not homogenous with regards to many aspects in their political approaches but at least the issue which works as the coherent factor is that all members of this delegation have faith in democracy, human rights, women rights and the parts of the constitution which recognize the political, cultural and religious pluralism. Moreover, the demand for a sustainable ceasefire is their prime demand which is already appreciated by the common people in Afghanistan and the international community. The delegation is participating in the talks with a clear agenda recommended by the consultative Loya Jirga (Traditional Grand Assembly of elders) held on August 07, 2020.
The Taliban tried to stay tough to their vague and unclear traditional narrative. They never spoke in clear terms about their current stance on various key issues. Since, they were aware that no one is buying their previous version of governance and political system domestically and internationally. They played very successfully with the common and undisputed faith of a common Muslim, like ‘Islam is the key to all problems, it promotes brotherhood and equality and has a high value for women’. At the same time, they increased their military campaign for more territorial gain to strengthen their negotiating position. The campaign remained unsuccessful. 
Despite the fact that all knew the real intentions of Taliban, no one expressed their skepticism. Probably, the US and its international partners just wanted to break the ice by the start of these talks – the second phase of the US-Taliban deal, locked in February 29, 2020 in the same city of Doha.   
But at last, the Taliban had to open their cards. In the first session, they started with a highly sensitive issue regarding the personal law of the Shiites of Afghanistan. Although the exact population of Afghans has always remained a mystery, the Shiites have comprised of around 20 percent of the whole population of Afghanistan. Certainly, they are trying to win the hearts of the majority Sunni community, mostly followers of the Hanafi school of thought. 
In this regard, there are two articles in the current enacted constitution of Afghanistan. The article 130 says, “In cases under consideration, the courts shall apply provisions of this Constitution as well as other laws. If there is no provision in the Constitution or other laws about a case, the courts shall, in pursuance of Hanafi jurisprudence, and, within the limits set by this Constitution, rule in a way that attains justice in the best manner” and the article 131 explains, “The courts shall apply the Shia jurisprudence in cases involving personal matters of followers of the Shia sect in accordance with the provisions of the law. In other cases, if no clarification in this Constitution and other laws exist, the courts shall rule according to laws of this sect.”
In addition to that, The Shia Personal (Family) Law was approved by the Parliament and endorsed by the President Hamid Karzai in February 2009. The majority of the former anti-Taliban constituency comprised of absolute majority of Sunni Muslim never had problem with their Shiite allies throughout long years of resistance against Taliban. It is also to be mentioned that the majority of the moderate Pashtuns have wholeheartedly supported the Shiite personal law in the parliament.
The other issue that might need a tiresome round of discussion is the ceasefire – the only effective card in the hand of Taliban. The Taliban want to bargain a big deal in return for the ceasefire. Since, the current uncontrolled wave of violence has also two different meanings: for Taliban it is a holy war while for the people suffering it is nothing more than a catastrophic calamity. In Kabul, already the non-Pashtuns, once together in the Northern Alliance, have started building up their lines against any probable detrimental situation by the Taliban return.
Speaking to the 9th death anniversary of the Burhanuddin Rabbani, the ex-president and the prominent jihadi leader who was killed by a suicide bomber dispatched by the Taliban in September 20, 2011, Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, the prominent Hazara leader, and Salahuddin Rabbani, the son of the slain ex-president and the current head of the Jamiat-e Islami made it loud and clear that they are ready to support peace but an honorable one with inclusive approach. They are asking for a clear map out of this peace process, the future contour of the polity and the mode of governance.         
The recognition of the ethnic, lingual, cultural and religious diversity is one of the undeniable values of this century. Taliban should also change their 20th-century approach and enter into the national political stream with a new moderate Islamic Approach without gun and violence. They shouldn’t gamble with the integrity of Afghanistan.

Dr. Hussain Yasa is the founder of the Afghanistan group of Newspapers. At the moment, he is living in self-imposed exile in Germany. He can be reached at dr.yada1967@gmail.com

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