The Cost of a Peace Deal With the Taliban: Ignoring Concerns of Minority Women

“Having seen the impact of the Taliban regime firsthand, I want to envision a different outcome of the peace deal with Taliban,” writes Taj. “Most articles about the peace deal mention the concerns of Afghan women which is a legitimate concern—but to the date, no articles have raised the seriousness of the peace deal outcomes on the Hazara women.” (ABC Open Riverland / Flickr)

On May 15, the maternity ward of Dasht-e-Barchi Hospital, just west of Kabul, was the center of horrific attacks. The Taliban went there to kill mothers and newborn babies—the majority of whom were Hazara.

The horrific images of babies and mothers shocked my soul, and made me numb. I felt so powerless and helpless. It was the first time in my life I felt awful pain and hatred. My love of humanity was tested so hard, as I felt that I had no control of myself.

My only response was to scream and say again: It was an attack on the Hazara community. My mind flashed back to the images of the hospital, to my memories of visiting other sites of Taliban massacres and to my interviews of Hazara women survivors.

My dual identity as a Hazara and a woman positions me to see these horrific attacks from a particular lens and perspective. My analysis is grounded in my lived experiences as a Hazara woman, and as a women’s rights activist from Afghanistan.

Having seen the impact of the Taliban regime firsthand, I want to envision a different outcome of the peace deal with Taliban. Most articles about the peace deal mention the concerns of Afghan women which is a legitimate concern—but to the date, no articles have raised the seriousness of the peace deal outcomes on the Hazara women. 


Here at Ms., our team is continuing to report through this global health crisis—doing what we can to keep you informed and up-to-date on some of the most underreported issues of this pandemic. We ask that you consider supporting our work to bring you substantive, unique reporting—we can’t do it without you. Support our independent reporting and truth-telling for as little as $5 per month.


I would like to briefly summarize two questions: Why will the peace deal  have a severe impact on Hazara women?  What are the problems with the peace talks? 

The peace deal will have a brutal impact on Hazara women because the Taliban have never stopped targeting Hazara ethnic communities. The five massacre sites by the Taliban, which I documented (Oppression of Hazara in Afghanistan), represent the targeted and genocidal killing of Hazaras (HRW).

My extensive research, interviews, field work in Afghanistan and recent specific attacks on the Hazara community revealed the following facts about Taliban ideology, policies and actions:

  • The Taliban killed Hazara babies because they represent the future of the Hazaras.
  • They used annihilation attempts as part of their genocidal plan.
  • These recent attacks on the Hazara center, mosques and peaceful protests reflect their targeted killing of Hazara people.

Fear of the Outcome of Peace Talks

The Hazara women have gained so much during the post-Taliban era—despite systematic discrimination, targeted attacks and killings. Hazara women have broken with traditional taboos and pioneered many advances for women, which in the long history of Afghanistan have never happened before.

Afghanistan now has Hazara women’s strong participation in every walk of life in the country, including the first head of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the first female head of Human Rights commission, the first female governor of a province and the first female mayor in Afghanistan. Hazara women fear losing all the gains they have made in the post-Taliban era.

Major Issues with the Peace Talks Process

Hazara women fear and mistrust the whole process of peace talks because there are many issues with the process:

  • The Taliban do not have any clear agenda and never responded to the questions of reporters about the specific concerns of Afghan women—particularly Hazara women.
  • The Taliban will never accept any conditions or demands from women and they have never apologized for the crimes they committed and are still committing.
  • The peace talks should be about women and minority ethnics who suffered the most. 

These key players of the peace talks signal a red line for all women, particularly for Hazara women, and invite a chaotic situation to Afghanistan again.

If the key players of peace talks have never seen the impact of Taliban attacks and ideology, how is it possible for them to bring an effective negotiation agenda and concerns from targeted women to the table? Their ignorance, lack of understanding and intentional or unintentional feeding of the chauvinist ideology of the Taliban will eliminate all of the achievements over the last 18 years. 

What Makes Peace Talks Effective?

Afghans are tired of war and tired of conflict. We want some kind of closure to the current situation.

Peace talks and negotiation are possible, if the following factors are taken into consideration:

  • Hold the Taliban accountable for their past crimes, especially the massacre of Hazara ethnic minorities and their brutal treatment of  women.
  • Recognize minority rights and women’s rights as a central part of the peace talks and the political settlement. 

I am painfully following the peace talks process and feel enraged to see the lack of attention to the ideology and mentality of the Taliban. There is no guarantee that the government will protect minorities and women who have fought for rights and gains during these past two decades of achievement.

It is obvious that these peace talks are not inclusionary talks and will not bring long lasting and peaceful solutions to the multiple decades of violence and repression. 


The coronavirus pandemic and the response by federal, state and local authorities is fast-movingDuring this time, Ms. is keeping a focus on aspects of the crisis—especially as it impacts women and their families—often not reported by mainstream media. If you found this article helpful, please consider supporting our independent reporting and truth-telling for as little as $5 per month.

About

Zareen Taj is a women’s rights and human rights activist. She is a Feminist Majority Scholar. She has a dual bachelor’s degree in women's studies and political science and a master's degree in women studies. She is currently a LLC PhD student at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.