In a virtual event on the intra-Afghan talks at the United States Institute of Peace, Habiba Sarabi emphasized that for Afghan women, negotiating on the structure of the government is “non-negotiable.” Habiba Sarabi, the former governor of Bamiyan province in Afghanistan is one of five women on the team representing the Afghanistan government, formed to negotiate peace with the Taliban.
During her remarks at the virtual event, she repeatedly emphasized on the importance of Afghanistan remaining a republic. She said that, “I have travelled to many parts of the country and have met with many women and one issue is clear: the issue of [Afghanistan remaining a] republic is non-negotiable.”
She explained that in a republic, all citizens are “equal” and that is “very important for women.” Sarabi said Afghanistan remaining a republic is “important for our freedom and for our rights.” She continued that under the republic, “I can nominate or represent myself to become a leader.” She would not be allowed to represent or lead under an emirate. Sarabi also said that she has traveled to many parts of the country and has learned that “the people of Afghanistan recognize the difference between an emirate and a republic, especially women cannot accept an emirate and to go backwards.”
The Taliban has insisted that Afghanistan become an “Emirate,” which gives power to a limited group of individuals. The small group of ultra-conservative individuals would have the authority to issue decrees and rules which the people must obey. An emirate also does not support elections or the representation of people from all backgrounds. The small group of conservative religious leaders would decide on who should be the leader.
When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan in the late 90s, it was an emirate, which was only recognized by three states in the world – Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates. Sarabi also challenged their insistence on the emirate that, “if it was a favorable form of governing, why did the rest of the world not recognize their government?”
The panelists also included the leader of the Afghan negotiating team, Masoum Stanekzai. Stanekzai who has performed in multiple capacities in the Afghan government for the past nearly 20 years also insisted on the republic and its importance for the future of Afghanistan and the Afghan people. In his remarks he said that, “the issue of republic is the wish of the Afghan people. We cannot bring an artificial dictator to rule the country.”
Source: USIP, 4/22/20