On June 25th in a state visit by the president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, President Biden pledged to continue to support Afghanistan, assuring the Afghan delegation that the United States will “maintain their military, as well as economic and political support.”
While vowing to continue the support to the Afghan people, President Biden also stressed that “Afghans are going to have to decide their future.” Biden stressed that the senseless killing of Afghans must stop but admitted that it is “going to be very difficult.”
The Afghan president and its delegation’s trip comes at a crucial time as U.S. and NATO troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan. The country is facing unprecedented levels of violence by the Taliban, ISIS, Al-Qaeda and their affiliates, targeting civilians, infrastructure and leaders. During a two day-visit, the Afghan delegation including four prominent Afghan women leaders, also met with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle.
Of the four women, Fatima Gailani, former head of the Afghan Red Crescent and Habiba Sarabi, former governor of Bamiyan province also met with the Democratic Women’s Caucus. In a press release by the Caucus, the leadership stated that they are aware of the difficult reality in Afghanistan right now and reiterated their support to women and girls in Afghanistan.
“We are committed to continuing to work with our President to provide humanitarian and security assistance to the Afghan people so that women and girls have adequate access to education, health care, economic security, and opportunity.” The Caucus leadership, Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) said that advancing the human rights of Afghan women and girls is “vital to making our world a more equitable and safe place for all.”
Fatima Gailani and Habiba Sarabi have been negotiating on behalf of the Afghan government with the Taliban since September of 2020. Two other women leaders who accompanied Ashraf Ghani and the delegation were Shaharzad Akbar, Chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and Adela Raz, the Afghan Ambassador to the United Nations.
Habiba Sarabi and Fatima Gailani have been vocal on protecting the human rights of women and minorities and that these rights are non-negotiable. The women negotiators are firm in their belief that human rights must be protected and a democratic system of one-person-one-vote should remain to ensure equality in the country. Gailani and Sarabi told Members of the Democratic Women’s Caucus the Afghanistan-US relationship is important and that they hope members of Congress “will continue to speak for the human rights of our people, democracy in our country and the values and principles that we all share as humans.”
The Afghan delegation came to DC to ask for a continued U.S. support and partnership with the Afghan state to fight terrorism and defend human rights and democracy. A key member of the delegation, Abdullah Abdullah, who chairs the High Council for Peace in Afghanistan, met with President Biden as well. He emphasized that Al- Qaeda and other terrorist groups continue to be a threat to the security of the world. In an interview with the Associated Press, Abdullah said, “If Afghanistan is abandoned completely, without support, without engagement, there’s a danger that Afghanistan can turn once again into a haven for terrorist groups.”
Early this month, in a conversation with NPR reporter Renee Montagne the Afghan women negotiators reiterated that women have achieved a great deal over the past 20 years and do not want to go back to the time when they had no rights under the Taliban. Fatima Gailani, one of the women negotiators as well as a member of the delegation who visited DC told Montagne that it is important for the Taliban to understand that this is not the Afghanistan of 1990s when they ruled. “This is the Afghanistan where everyone is a part of it. Every ethnic group, every gender, every language, every sect in Islam—we are all together.”