‘What does peace mean?’- Many different Afghan views

KABUL (Pajhwok): All Afghans are yearning peace, but ordinary people, politicians, Taliban and the government have different definitions for it. However, some commonalities in these definitions are “orderliness, security, prosperity and an end to the war in the country”.
For nearly four decades, the people of Afghanistan have been living in insecurity and war that has spawned a variety of problems, such as loss of relatives, migration, poverty and economic hardships. Tired of the devastation caused by war, they have been calling for peace and tranquility in the country. But different sections of society have different definitions of peace.
An end to the war and enmity, development of trust and friendship, freedom from fear, strength of justice, mutual co-existence, security, reconciliation, lasing stability, peace of mind, an end to killings, prevention of orphanhood and widowhood and protection of freedom of expression are among the definitions offered by the public and politicians. A just and lasting peace established through political agreement, international guarantees for the fight against terrorism, participation in government with the approval of the Loya Jirga and protection of people’s fundamental rights and preserving achievements of the last 20 years are the important definitions given by the government. Under the umbrella of a system based on values and public confidence, a peaceful and prosperous life in independence and freedom are the peace definitions given by the Taliban.
Definitions of peace by public, govt: Timor Shah, who lost one of his legs to the conflict, called for an end to the fighting, saying: “Peace means a state in which people no longer hear news of explosions every morning. Peace means that parents are no longer concerned about their children’s security when they go outside. We want peace so that more of our brothers are not killed; bloodshed stops; and parents no longer mourn their children’s loss.”
Nazir Shinwar, a Kabul-based journalist, said: “Peace is lasting stability that every Afghan and human being seeks.” He also stressed the need for safeguarding freedom of expression in the peace process and protection of human right.” But to 37-year-old Atiqullah, who ekes out a living by carrying people’s goods on his single-tyre handcart, peace means providing food for his family.
He remarked: “Peace will come the day when I find good food for my children. If the war end, if there is employment, our life will get bitter. When people are in comfort, there will be employment for us in this country. Ever since I have become mature, war has been ongoing on. We are tired of war, which has caused poverty and misery in our country.” Zubaida Roshna, a widow whose husband was killed in Kabul in the 1990s, said: “Peace is friendship and reconciliation; peace means an end to war and all people living in friendship and sincerity with each other. Peace means all people should be kind to each other. It means spiritual calm. It brings harmony among family members and it also brings prosperity and leads to the creation of a legitimate government.” Gul Makai, 40, is concerned about the post-peace wellbeing of women. She said: “We don’t want a peace in which women and girls are locked up in their homes and 10th grade girls are stopped from going to school.”
She feared many women, girls and parents were concerned that insurgents could seek revenge on them once peace was achieved. Gul Makai underlined the need to ensure the presence of women in peace in the post-peace period, and said: “In every plan that is implemented, both sides must guarantee that Afghanistan does not go back to the past. Girls should not be stopped going to school and women must not be prevented work.”
Maliha Jami, a disabled senator who lost a leg in the civil war, also made a pitch for peace. “Peace means an end to war; it means that no one becomes disabled, widow or orphan.” Habibur Rahman Pedram, a member of the Wolesi Jirga from Herat province, said: “Peace means accommodation and reconciliation. Peace also means tolerance of each other despite differences.”
Khalilullah Shankar, deputy chairman of the Afghanistan Millat party, said: “In many instances, peace is defined as a state in which there are pleasures and beauty besides the absence of war.” He believed ending the conflict and establishing peace would lead to progress and self-sufficiency in society. It will also bring justice to all.
Aman Lodin wrote an article titled “What is peace?” The article reads: “For many people, peace is the absence of war, stability, law enforcement and regulations. Peace is an end to war and enmity. It sets store by trust, friendship, cooperation, security, health and wellbeing and equality among human beings. Peace is harmony, balance, cordial relations, a friendly agreement, lack of fear, patience, tolerance of disagreements.” He writes that peace is a convent by which conflict is resolved. Peace is a calm atmosphere in which freedom, justice and security are maintained with the cooperation of society.
Lodin added: “Peace is the physical, mental, spiritual and social wellbeing that stems from justice and fairness. Peace is a pleasurable state of relations in which violence and cruelty do not exist, and differences are resolved amiably.” He called justice the basis for peace and wrote that peace was life of non-violence based on the formal recognition of each other’s rights.
Taliban’s definition of peace: Dr. Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, said: “Peace means freedom, independence and a comfortable life under the umbrella of a system that is in line with the values and beliefs of the people.”
Govt’s definition of peace: Presidential spokesman Mohammad Amiri said the goal of the government was to achieve a just and lasting peace. He defined peace form government’s point of view as: “Just and lasting peace is one in which a political agreement on domestic and international consensus on a ceasefire is reached. It means a regional and international guarantee for the war against terrorism, participation in power accepted by the Loya Jirga (every citizen of Afghanistan).”
He explained any peace settlement must preserve achievements of the last 20 years, the second chapter of the constitution, especially women’s rights, freedom of expression and all religious and ethnic rights, as well as a government that is formed through direct elections.” These sources present different and. in some cases, common images of peace in the country, where efforts are underway to achieve peace and security. But the peace process is still complicated and currently its fate cannot be predicted. Intra-Afghan peace talks began after the US-Taliban peace deal was signed in Doha in September last year. Eight months on, only procedure of the talks has been agreed upon. The negotiations have since been deadlocked.