KABUL, Afghanistan — It was a uncommon sight, even after 18 years of progress in Afghanistan: greater than 700 girls from throughout the nation, gathered to ship an unequivocal message to the boys now negotiating with the Taliban.
We would like peace, the ladies stated, however not at the price of our rights.
The convention in Kabul, six months within the making, represented a watershed second at a time when Afghans are struggling to understand what peace with the Taliban would convey, even because the warfare with the militant group is as lethal as ever. American diplomats are holding talks with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, however the Afghan authorities will not be concerned.
A number of girls expressed fears peace deal may convey the Taliban again into the federal government, leaving girls and women weak to a brand new wave of the kind of edicts that constrained their lives till the group’s overthrow in 2001. Ladies had been routinely overwhelmed for violating Taliban codes.
One lady on the convention, held inside an infinite tent-like construction, spoke sharply to President Ashraf Ghani shortly earlier than he delivered a speech emphasizing his help for girls’s rights.
“You must put killers in jail, not make peace with them,” stated the lady, Nargiss Qurbani, 48, who stated the Taliban killed her husband in 1997 and later wounded her son, a soldier.
Mr. Ghani didn’t reply.
The a whole lot of ladies who attended got here principally from city areas in 34 provinces. Most wore make-up, a superfluous embellishment when the Taliban barred girls from exhibiting their face. Many lined their hair with scarves, however just a few left theirs defiantly uncovered.
Precisely one wore a burqa — the all-encompassing garment that ladies had been as soon as required to put on by the Taliban.
Attendees waved small Afghan flags as they sang a music celebrating the nation’s girls. They watched a video of scenes of pre-Taliban Afghanistan, the place some girls dressed within the newest fashions. These scenes had been juxtaposed with a current picture of the bloody aftermath of a suicide bombing.
Rula Ghani, Afghanistan’s first woman, urged girls to benefit from the gathering to precise their views publicly.
“Afghan girls have their very own voice, and now they’re elevating it,” Ms. Ghani stated.
Her husband, in his speech, didn’t straight deal with the problem of ladies’s rights beneath any new authorities that might come up from a peace settlement.
“You’ve got been pushed apart, however at present that has modified,” Mr. Ghani advised the ladies. “You aren’t a sufferer any extra. You make the long run.”
The president’s speech was warmly acquired, however a number of girls stated in interviews that they wished ironclad ensures that ladies’s rights can be protected as a part of any peace settlement.
“We would like peace, however we don’t need to lose our achievements,” stated Aqilla Mustafavi, 25. “We took an extended highway to achieve right here, and we don’t need to return.”
American and Taliban negotiators have agreed in precept on the framework of a deal wherein American troops would withdraw in return for a Taliban pledge that Afghanistan wouldn’t be utilized by terrorists. Below a brand new Pentagon plan being supplied within the peace negotiations, all American and different international troops would withdraw from Afghanistan over the following three to 5 years.
However that framework reached between the People and the Taliban is contingent on reaching settlement on different points, amongst them a cease-fire and direct negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan authorities.
The Taliban have refused to speak to the federal government, calling it illegitimate. Afghan girls have demanded a seat on the desk if direct negotiations happen.
Mr. Ghani has introduced a loya jirga, a conventional gathering of Afghans, for March 17 to debate the peace course of. The federal government has stated girls will make up 30 % of the attendees.
In a separate speech Thursday to members of the safety forces, Mr. Ghani expressed skepticism a couple of cease-fire, telling troops to arrange for a potential Taliban offensive within the spring.
At Thursday’s convention, Malalai Shinwari, a member of the Excessive Peace Council, a government-appointed physique, famous that delegations of ladies had spoken with 15,000 girls throughout the nation in preparation for the occasion.
“Now we have been advised that ladies can’t journey, and that they’re not so good as males,” Ms. Shinwari advised the gathering. “However now I believe we are able to do every thing.”
In an interview, a 52-year-old lady stated she feared that the Taliban would kill her if they found she had attended the convention. The lady, who requested that solely her first identify, Latifa, be revealed, stated she had lived in worry for the reason that Taliban killed her husband, a police officer, six years in the past.
Latifa stated she left her village, which is managed by the Taliban, after her husband’s loss of life. However she stated the Taliban had carried out assaults inside town of Khost, the place she now lives along with her 5 daughters and 4 sons.
“I got here right here to go a message from the ladies of my village,” Latifa stated. “We would like peace. I don’t need my daughters to undergo the best way I’ve.”