Tuesday’s statement said that a postwar Afghanistan would have an Islamic legal system, protect women’s rights “within the Islamic framework of Islamic values,” and ensure equality for all ethnic groups. The much-touted conference was attended by Taliban, Afghan government representatives, women and members of the country’s nascent civil society. It aimed to produce a new level of consensus among Afghanistan’s society, AP reported.
No date was given for the tougher negotiations to follow, when the many sides in Afghanistan’s protracted conflict will sit down to hammer out the details of what an Islamic system will look like, how constitutional reform will come about, and what will become of the many local militias affiliated with the country’s powerful warlords. They will also have to tackle how women’s rights fit into the definition of the “Islamic values,” as well as whether to set up an interim administration and when elections should be held.
The conference agreed to keep the momentum going with confidence building measures. These included the unconditional release of old, disabled and sick prisoners — though there was no mention of the affiliation of the prisoners or whether it included those captured in the war. The warring sides also agreed not to attack institutions such as hospitals and schools, as well as national infrastructure such as hydroelectric dams. They also agreed to be more diplomatic in their references to each other.
Both sides did agree, however, to do more to protect civilians. The United Nations has expressed growing concern over civilian deaths in the conflict, and has criticized all sides for rising casualty rates, including from stepped up US airstrikes. The Taliban have also been deeply criticized for their many attacks that have killed or wounded civilians.
Tuesday’s statement also said all sides in the conflict would want international guarantors of any final agreement.
It said that future meetings would be all-inclusive — without any mention of direct talks with the Afghan government. The Taliban have steadfastly refused to talk with President Ashraf Ghani’s government calling it a puppet.
Participants attending the all-Afghan conference, which Germany and Qatar jointly sponsored, attended as ordinary Afghans “on equal footing,” and while there were senior government officials in attendance they were there as ordinary Afghans and not in their official capacity.