Peace talks are back on between Afghanistan’s government and the Taliban, with renewed urgency as the US increases pressure on reaching a political solution before a May 1 troop withdrawal deadline. Amid a surge in violence, there are concerns over what a power-sharing arrangement with the Taliban could mean for human rights, especially the rights of women and girls. Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the EU and NATO, Nazirullah Salarzai said no one wanted the Taliban to return.
Nearly 20 years after the Taliban was pushed out of power in Kabul by the US-led coalition in the wake of the September 11 attacks, the radical Islamist group is at the negotiating table with the Afghan government. Will Washington walk away after spending so much blood and treasure for so long? The lack of progress on so many levels in Afghanistan is clear: corruption remains endemic and human rights seem to be slipping as the Taliban waits in the wings. Can the Kabul government finally deliver on the promises it has made to reform?
DW’s Sarah Kelly asked Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the EU and NATO, Nazifullah Salarzai, if his government can deliver to its partners and for its people.
Speaking remotely from Brussels, the ambassador told Kelly on Conflict Zone that his government’s goal was to preserve and protect “the hard-won gains of the last 20 years,” adding that no one wants the Taliban to return to power in Kabul. He admitted that the peace process was “lengthy.”
‘The reality of Afghanistan’
Pressed by Kelly on his own government’s inclusion of warlords with reputations for rape and murder in the negotiating team, Salarzai said, “Those sitting around the tables are the reality of Afghanistan.”
Salarzai noted that the government’s negotiating team included one woman. Asked by Kelly about a recent proposal to ban public singing by girls, dismissed the issue as “a simple misunderstanding” among local officials.
On the broader issue of women’s rights in Afghanistan, Salarzai said his country’s leadership had a strong interest in promoting and protecting women’s rights and that progress was continuing to be made in business, law, and government.
The ambassador said that Afghan security forces sought to protect the country’s citizens in every action.
On the issue of corruption, Salarzai said that “there is a strong will to end the culture of impunity.”
On one prominent case of corruption and embezzlement that led to the collapse of the Kabul Bank, the government had promised to recover the roughly one billion dollars lost. Salarzai noted that “half of those funds had been recovered.”