Afghans who are attending the Intra-Afghan Dialogue Conference for Peace in Doha have said they have noted a significant change in the Taliban’s mindset towards some issues in society, such as freedom of speech, human rights, women’s employment, and their humanitarian rights, however, they said that the Taliban should demonstrate these changes practically.
“When the Taliban sit together around one table with the women who were not allowed to go out of their homes under Taliban rule [in Afghanistan] and were facing numerous problems, it shows a change. But today, this reflects a major change where the Taliban sit face-to-face and talk, but the time will prove what the Taliban will do in action,” said Anarkali Honaryar, a delegate of the conference.
“I think we need time to judge whether there is a serious change in the Taliban. Unfortunately, a recent attack in Ghazni indicated that still there are serious issues when it comes to the interactions between the people and the Taliban. A recent incident in Ghazni showed that Taliban’s original ideas about the protection of lives of the civilians have not changed. Also on other fundamental issues, there is a need for more time to judge the Taliban,” said Shah Gul Rezayee, a delegate of the conference.
There were severe restrictions on media, freedom of speech and women’s right to work and education when the hardline group was in power in 2001.
But the spokesman of the Taliban’s political office in Doha, Suhail Shaheen, said the Taliban will respect freedom of speech, women’s rights, and other human rights values within the framework of Islamic laws and principles.
“We agree with the freedom of the press within the structure of the Islamic principles. We want it and it is necessary for society, because media monitors the veins of society like a physician and then recommend them a solution, but freedom of the press should respect the faith and it should be used for the structure and construction of society not for destruction of individuals and society,” he told TOLOnews. “Women have the right to get an education in line with the Islamic principles and media should be neutral.”
Anwarulhaq Ahadi, an Afghan politician who has attended the conference, said he hopes that more discussions of this type will be held in the future to further facilitate direct talks between all warring parties.
“We pray that the rights which have been outlined in the history of Islam about women, particularly when it comes to freedom of the press. These are the issues which will be discussed in the talks,” said Ahadi.
The first day of the meeting was focused on wide-ranging discussions about the women’s rights, the freedom of the press, civilians protection, ceasefire, foreign forces withdrawal, the post-peace deal government, and other relevant issues, according to few delegates interviewed by TOLOnews.
The delegates are expected to issue a joint statement at the end of the conference.