The High Peace Council of Afghanistan (HPC) on Sunday said that if the Taliban ask for a constitutional amendment to be on agenda in the peace talks, the Afghan government is prepared to take such a demand into consideration.
“Any discussion which takes place is carried out based on the current situation in Afghanistan. We said that we are ready to include amendments in Constitution in the agenda for talks between the government and the Taliban, if the Taliban asks for,” HPC spokesman Sayed Ehsan Tahiri said.
But, civil society institutions, media and members of the public said they are worried that by doing so, gains and values which were achieved over the past 17 years in line with the provisions of the Constitution might be sacrificed.
Freedom of press and freedom of speech constitute one of the key gains for Afghanistan in its strides for building a democratic society.
Article 34 of the Constitution states that freedom of expression shall be inviolable and that every Afghan citizen shall have the right to express their thoughts and ideas freely.
“This could be very challenging and this is unacceptable,” said Lida Nawrozi, a journalist.
“This creates concern for journalists and those working in the society,” said Haidar Mohammad Nazari, a journalist.
“This means our backsliding to the first track,” said Sayed Mahdai Alavi Nezhad, a journalist.
Some Afghans said they believe that any compromise on the freedom of speech and freedom of press will prevent them to convey their message to government and to the world.
“Freedom of speech is vital in the view of current situation. It should not be sacrificed for a political process or anything else,” said Mohammad Rafiq, an Afghan student.
“The president of a government which claims to be the successor of freedom of speech should not lose it,” said media activist Sayed Yasin.
“By making investigative reports, they (media) informed the people about major cases of corruption and their legal follow up,” said Naser Tamuri, a researcher at Integrity Watch Afghanistan.
The Afghan government recently said that the Taliban has to endorse the Afghan Constitution before attending any peace talks and Taliban also has set the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country a precondition for any talks.