Taliban to include women in next round of Afghan peace talks

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News Analysis |

In a major paradigm shift, the Afghan Taliban have announced that there will be multiple woman members in the group’s delegation heading toward Doha for the next round of dialogues to be commenced later this month. Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid, without revealing any specifics about the identity or social stature of these women members, confirmed the development via a telephone call.

“These women have no family relationship with the senior members of the Taliban, they are normal Afghans, from inside and outside the country, who have been supporters and part of the struggle of the Islamic Emirate,” he said. The announcement was hailed on the multiple levels, from Afghanistan and all the way to the United States of America as it is certainly an unprecedented event which the Taliban were least expected to undergo.

People of America were promised that tailored made form of government, western democracy, would be established in Afghanistan ensuring prosperity and rights for its people.

A former woman member of the Afghan parliament Fawzia Koofi termed it as a “good step” forward saying, “Only women can feel the pain and miseries that Afghan women have suffered. The presence of women among the Taliban negotiators shows that the Taliban’s ideology has changed.”

American actor and United Nations special envoy Angelina Jolie recently wrote a column in the Times and called for women to have a central role in the ongoing Afghanistan peace talks, and warned that their exclusion would hamper any chance of lasting stability. “Afghan women must be able to speak for themselves,” Jolie wrote. “This means including female negotiators in significant numbers as part of any Afghan government delegation and ensuring formal participation for women’s groups representing civil society.”

read more: Angelina Jolie says women must be included in Afghan talks

From Oppressors to Moderates

When the Taliban were bombed out of Kabul after 9/11 by the U.S B52 bombers, the narrative sold to the American population was that they were barbaric ruthless people who are cruel to minorities and women. Since such notions are despised as per American values, therefore, such a projection, coupled with the fact that Taliban provided sanctuary to key Al Qaeda figures like Osama bin Laden and Dr. Aimen Al Zawahiri helped garner the support for the invasion of Afghanistan.

Read more: Will the Taliban soften their stance on women’s rights?

American people were promised that tailored made form of government, western democracy, would be established in Afghanistan ensuring prosperity and rights for its people. But almost 2 decades later, with no end in sight, the U.S is being forced to pull itself out of this quagmire which seems to be engulfing U.S resources, with no sign of promised, sustainable democracy to which oppressor Taliban are a no part of, whatsoever.

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in mid-April in congressional hearings on the US State Department’s budget proposals made it clear that the United States is not in Afghanistan to rebuild the nation or teach Afghans how to deal with their women.

On part of the Taliban, the road to Kabul is getting clearer day by day due to the immense magnitude of victories they have been able to secure on the battlefront. However, the world has changed big time since the last time they held reins of power. Back in the 90s, due to the limited access of media and lack of technology allowed them to manage the affairs within Afghanistan as per their own discretion.

I think if the Taliban has any interest in getting international support … it would be in their interest to recognize the importance of including women and including human rights as part of any settlement that happens.

Whether it was the version of Sharia which they deemed suitable or the punitive measures for those who failed to adhere to their interpretation of Islamic law. But today’s world is more globalized where the flow of information is just a few clicks away. Hence, the Taliban’s inclusion of women at the table for talks, speaks to their attempt to bring a more moderate form of Islamic thinking into effect, at least for now.

The Taliban spokesman states that the group has changed and it will encourage girls’ education and other women’s rights within an Islamic Sharia system.

Read more: Afghan peace would fall apart without Taliban reintegration into society

Economic Angle to Understand

A member of the U.S Arms Service Committee, Jeanne Shaheen had a very interesting insight into the matter which could explain why the Taliban are trying to change their image. On her visit to Afghanistan recently she said, “There is going to be an interest in economic support after the conflict ends.

I think if the Taliban has any interest in getting international support … it would be in their interest to recognize the importance of including women and including human rights as part of any settlement that happens.” It remains a fact that Afghanistan is far from being an economically stable country and the prospects of being one in the near future are million to one.

Read more: Peace amidst war: US-Taliban talks make “Real Strides”

Hence whosoever takes power completely after the United States moves out, would be responsible to provide jobs so that people have food on the table or else chaos would continue. Afghanistan would need continued international support to help set up industries which would provide a livelihood for families. Since the Taliban are eyeing themselves on the Iron throne of Afghanistan, and are tired of fighting it is likely they would avoid the trouble of another civil war.

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