The next intra-Afghan negotiation

The next round of intra-Afghan peace talks is set to reconvene during the first two weeks of January 2021 at a time when the security situation is worsening in Afghanistan. The Afghan Intelligence agency recently announced that during last year 18200 attacks have occurred against the government and civilians, and 99 percent of these attacks were conducted by the Taliban in different parts of the country. The overwhelming surge in instability has raised concerns over the success of intra-Afghan negotiations. Mr. Jens Stotelburg, the head of NATO, has voiced concern over the fragility and failure of Intra-Afghan peace talks. The Taliban have constantly been talking about the revival of Islamic Shariah, rejected the present constitution in its current form. The current Constitution, which is based on Islamic principles of Hanafi jurisprudence and in conformity with international law and human rights standards, is the main subject of the intra-Afghan negotiations for establishing the new form of the governance system. For the Afghan Republic, anything that overrides the two decades’ achievements to which the constitution is part and parcel is a redline. However, some basic amendments within the current constitution to improve governance under the democratic umbrella are acceptable to Afghans and the international community. On the other hand, the problem is not the current constitution, but the Taliban’s lack of acknowledgment of provisions of the constitution that predominantly serve Hanafi principles of Islam, and makes the Taliban stance further blurred as they continue to insist on Shariah or Islamic systems.
The political negotiation is carried to create a win-win situation with the sole purpose of ending the conflict. For the intra-Afghan negotiations to succeed, both the Taliban and the Islamic Republic delegations have to exhibit their leniency for restoring peace in Afghanistan. The Islamic Republic delegates have to be flexible for any proposed amendment to the constitution to overcome corruption and weak governance. Similarly, the Taliban have to give up their rigid demand for the Islamic Emirates or the Shariah system that is not conformity to the classical Islamic values, international humanistic norm, and the current requirement of the Afghan society. The Taliban have to accept the reality that presently Afghanistan and the civilized world are not supportive of the Shariah brand Taliban are in pursuit of. The current Constitution is adopted after many rounds of consultation and supported by the international community. The Constitution guarantees the rights of religious, ethnic minorities, and freedom of women, and has the support of both the Afghan people and the international community. Amendments in the Constitutions around the world are a normal routine to facilitate good governance. The Taliban should lobby for proposed amendments rather than opposing the Constitution.
The amendment to the Constitution may require to establish an interim political setup that will not only facilitate the ground for a ceasefire, and election but would create a window to merge the Taliban into the democratic process. The Taliban on Saturday, January 9 speaking to Voice of America raided their concern that” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s resolve to remain in office until the completion of his tenure was detrimental to peace talks aimed at finding a negotiated end to four decades of war in Afghanistan,”. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, in his recent visit to Jalal Abad, once again rest assured of the peaceful transition of power is the speech that will hinder the peace process.
The current democratic Islamic constitution is preceded by 1964, 1977, and 1987 Constitutions which are based on the Hanafi doctrine which is called the classic Islam “Late usually Sunni, but also Shii Tradition”. Article 54 of 1964 Afghan constitution stipulates that ” There shall be no law repugnant to the basic principles of the sacred religion of Islam and other values embodied in this constitution”. Similarly, the present democratic constitution adopted in 2004, clearly mentions in articles 2, and 3 that” The sacred religion of Islam is the religion of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and prohibits nonconformity with the “beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam,”. The current constitution further demands that if there is no provision in the Constitution or other laws about any issue, the courts shall in accordance with Hanafi jurisprudence. With this, what makes it complicated is the frequent demand of the Taliban for the Islamic system. The Taliban have failed to explain what type of Islamic system they are after. The Taliban during their reign and currently have exhibited being the followers of traditionalist Salafis in their conduct against religious, ethnic minorities, and women. Because Traditionalist Salafis, e.g., Wahhabis, return to sources of the Quran and Sunnah, they do not take into consideration the vast classical Islamic tree which roots from the Quran and Sunnah and the trunk is composed of Iman, Ihsan, and Islam.
The Taliban have been very firm in their stance to re-establish their Emirate with strict Sharia law. They have called the Afghan constitution pro-Western, labeling the Afghan government a puppet of the United States. The international community, Afghan civil society, political figures, and influential leaders have a unanimous agreement in backing the current democratic regime that to some extent guarantees basic human rights in Afghanistan. The reason behind the recent and frequent barbarous Taliban attacks against the Afghan people, government, the assassination of influential political, religious figures, and social activists is to portray their power for bargaining in amending not only more political concessions but to push for regime change as well. The Taliban’s insistence on the continuation of violence further shatters the window for peace and distances people from the Taliban.
The Afghan peace process is widely supported by the international community and the Afghan people. The Taliban should not overshadow the opportunity for peace under the irrational demand of a strict Shariah system that has no space in Afghanistan and the rest of the civilized world today. The Afghan government and people have been at the forefront of the Western “war on terror” as Mohammad Ashraf Ghani cited in his recent interview with CNN ” Since 2015, US lives lost in Afghanistan “is 98, while we the Afghan people have lost over 40,000 civilians & military,” The international community should support the intra-Afghan negotiation but not at the expense of sabotaging the last two decades achievements that came through the investment of blood and capital. Barnett R. Rubin, in his recently published work Constitutional Issues in the Afghan Peace Negotiations argued that ” The global powers that have so much to gain from peace and stability in Afghanistan should grant the Afghans the support, time, and resources to work through that process.”

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