An Open Letter to Taliban for the Durable Peace in Afghanistan By Ziauddin Yousafzai

By Ziauddin Yousafzai
Translated by: Sajid Ullah

For the last forty years, Afghanistan and for two decades, North and South Pakhtunkhwa have been burning in the fire of proxy and strategic wars where about two million innocent people were killed and six million others displaced in the Soviet-Afghan war between 1979 and 1989.

After the Russian exodus from Afghanistan, the Taliban forced the former president of Afghanistan Dr. Najeeb Ullah to step down. After the ouster of Dr. Najeeb, civil war erupted between different groups of Mujahedeen to gain power in Kabul, causing Afghanistan irreparable human and economic losses. During these sectarian wars, the Taliban emerged as a dominant military authority in 1994, who under the leadership of Mullah Mohammad Umar subdued all other active warrior groups and established the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” in 1996.

Though Afghanistan witnessed a peaceful respite after sixteen years of the continued conflicts and civil wars, the peace was achieved only by extreme fear and forceful implementation of the Taliban policies which, in turn, disconnected Afghanistan from the civilized world and made it an outcast from the global community. Taliban adopted a policy of eradicating every sign of fine arts, culture, and civilization from the country of rich cultural heritage and their five years of absolutism saw no new schools, hospitals, roads, or job opportunities.

The only thing in abundance was corporal punishments in the name of Shariah. There was only an abundance of severe punishments. For everything from having a non-compliant size of beard to the use of SIM cards; inflicting violence and punishment on ordinary men and women had become a daily routine. In short, it was one of the worst and bleakest times in the history of Afghanistan, for the human dignity of all Afghans in general and the basic human rights of women in particular.

After 9/11, when the “Islamic dictatorship” of the Afghan Taliban came to an end, a new era of political, democratic, and multinational nationalism began, and Afghanistan has made tremendous progress over the past twenty years, despite repeated Taliban attacks. Today, nine million Afghan children are studying in schools including 4.5 million girls. Where around two hundred thousand boys and one hundred thousand women are getting an education in universities. Hundreds of new hospitals have been built; roads have been reconstructed. Water reservoirs and dams have been built to increase agricultural production and generate electricity. And, today’s Afghanistan is known, not as an Assassin’s Creed of Afghans, but with the shining stars of the national cricket team, Rashid Khan, Muhammad Nabi, and Mujeeb-ur-Rehman. This is why, today, martyrs like Nakamura, Nemat Rawan, Fereshta Kohistani, and journalist Malala Maiwand, who died for peace and development, are respected more than the martyrs of war and jihad.

In the past twenty years, Afghanistan has changed utterly, but the Taliban have only changed so much that they are making the world believe that they have changed. They, in a reluctant language, are trying to tell the world that they are in favor of conditional and limited education for women and are also willing to let NGOs work in Afghanistan under their terms and conditions. They are getting intimate with everyone including US forces but ironically, they are bitter and furious for their fellow Afghans. Though they agreed with the mighty United States that they will remain indifferent to their longtime sponsor al-Qaeda, but owing to their military might they are unwilling to accept their country’s constitution, law, and state democratic system in the name of their military might.

Today, Afghanistan is once again at a critical juncture due to the Taliban’s tough stance and suspicious behavior following the withdrawal of US and NATO forces. God forbid and God forbid a hundred times, if the Taliban and their architects repeat their history and occupy Afghanistan by force and terror, then I have a few questions for Akhundzada Hibatullah and the Taliban Shura. I hope that instead of being provoked by these simple but peaceful questions, they will prefer to consider them.

  1. How long will such an Islamic Emirate last, even if you establish your Sunni, Pashtun Taliban fascism after the brutal bloodshed of innocent Afghan citizens? And for how many years will you be able to enslave the multi-ethnic and multi-religious Afghanistan, Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Hazaras?
  2. How different will your new Islamic Emirate be from the old Islamic Emirate? What kind of Islam would you introduce by wrapping up the current system that is no longer there? In my view, the “Islamic Republic of Afghanistan” is an Islamic country that represents moderate Islam.
  3. So, once again will you place the Islamic flags by imposing a ban on the education of girls, making the movement of women subject to their men, banning music and other fine arts, and attacking statues of the Buddha of Bamiyan?
  4. Can you bring development, peace, and prosperity to Afghanistan by depriving women of their gender as a part of Afghanistan’s political, social, and economic life? Will half of your men’s Afghanistan be acceptable to the other half of Afghanistan, I mean to the women’s Afghanistan? Will such an Afghanistan be able to become a dignified member of the international community or the United Nations?

If the answer to the above questions is no, then what new good can you give to Afghanistan by occupying Kabul? At the moment, you are making the world believe that you accept the Afghanistan of Hamid Karzai, Ashraf Ghani, and Abdullah Abdullah and that you want personal power in this Afghanistan without participation but this desire of yours is not in line with the ground realities and the global political situation.

So why don’t you reconcile with your Afghan and Muslim brothers and sisters for the sake of your Afghanism and Islam to save Afghanistan from further destruction and take steps towards lasting peace and prosperity? Why don’t you put the weapons away forever and pick up a pen yourself and put it in the hands of Afghan boys and girls?

As after the announcement of the withdrawal of foreign forces, there is no justification for your armed struggle or jihad in any case, but I would rather appeal to the leaders of all Islamic sects of Pakistan, religious political parties, the Islamic Ideological Council of Pakistan, Ministry of Justice of Afghanistan, Ulema Council in Afghanistan and Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, to unanimously issue a fatwa declaring that killing in the name of jihad is absolutely forbidden in Afghanistan as well as any armed struggle to gain power is a riot.

Hopefully, the Taliban will also support such a fatwa as they have been expressing dissatisfaction and detachment with the recent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan since they made a peace deal with the United States.

The Taliban must comprehend that there is a big difference between firing a gun and running a government. Educated and skilled youth is the greatest asset and resource of today’s Afghanistan and God forbid if the Taliban, instead of moving towards lasting peace and reconciliation, increase the acts of terrorism then thousands of educated men and women will be forced to migrate and Afghanistan will once again lose its architects.

I would also like to urge the ruling circles of our country, Pakistan, that you have a rare opportunity to play a key role in the Afghan peace process with transparency and to support a peaceful, free and prosperous Afghanistan. If the Taliban dictatorship is once again imposed on Afghanistan due to your wrong strategic policies, it will be very harmful and dangerous for the peace and development of all the neighboring countries, especially for Pakistan.

During the last years of the last decade of the twentieth century, I observed the slogan written on the walls of Swat: Do Mulk Do Hukamran, Mullah Umar, Fazal Rahman (“Two countries, two rulers, Mullah Omar, Fazlur Rehman.”) Although there is a fundamental difference between the late Mullah Omar’s style of the caliphate and Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s style of politics.

The former ruled by force while Maulana Sahib has been playing his role in the democratic system of Pakistan for three generations. To make the point clear, I want to say that it is not possible to stay safe from the political influence of the neighborhood for long because regression and extremism have no borders.

We should also realize that the establishment of a Sunni Taliban’s Afghanistan, parallel to Shiite Iran, will permanently pose a threat of sectarianism in the region. Today, it is high time for all Afghans, and especially the Taliban, to think first of Afghanistan, regardless of color, race, religion, or creed. Initiate a new history instead of repeating the previous ones.

Keeping his personal authority beyond and the sincerity with which Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has unconditionally invited all his neighbors and the Taliban, for durable and lasting peace as well as democracy in Afghanistan, let the Taliban and the neighboring countries accept it with sincerity and transparency.

Finally, the Taliban are sincerely requested to have mercy on their future generations because the greatest benefactors of Afghanistan are the Afghan people. No matter what religion, sect, or race they belong to, please join them. Instead of a small, limited, divided, rigid, and parasitic Afghanistan, let create unity for a larger, free, independent, united, and prosperous Afghanistan. Such Afghanistan that is a pride for all, regardless of color, race, religion, language, or sex.

This is a historic opportunity both for President Ashraf Ghani and Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada to end the civil war, which continued for the last forty years but spanning two centuries in Afghanistan and bestows Afghanistan with the gift of durable and lasting peace and prosperity. This will be the biggest event of the 21st century.

And no doubt for this Ashraf Ghani and Mullah Hibatullah will be entitled to the Nobel Peace Prize. In this regard, the positive facilitation of Zalmay Khalilzad and General Bajwa will also be written in golden words.

May Afghanistan become the cradle of peace. Ameen

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