On April 14, at the initiative of the representative offices of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, an online dialogue was held between civil society representatives and intellectuals of Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The theme of this Skype conference was the experience of Tajikistan in establishing peace after the civil war of 1992-1997, and the possibility of using this experience in Afghanistan.
On the Afghan side, the online conference was attended by leaders and activists of local and international human rights organizations, professors, students and heads of universities, as well as media representatives of Northern Afghanistan. On the Tajik side, the dialogue was held by historians, journalists and representatives of governmental and public organizations, including those who directly participated in the peace negotiations or witnessed the civil war, as well as representatives of the country’s media.
Afghan activists inquired their Tajik colleagues about how peace was established in Tajikistan. For this neighboring country, which shares not only 1400 km of border to the south but also a common language and cultural roots, this experience could be very useful, as there is an ongoing war in the country for over 30 years, and its people are longing for peace and tranquility.
Qozi Sayyod Mohammad Sami, head of the Independent Human Rights Commission in the northern provinces of Afghanistan, highlighted the complexity of the peace process in the country, saying that the government and public organizations and institutions are looking for ways to accelerate the peace process. According to him, in this regard, the experience of establishing peace in Tajikistan is quite promising.
Professor Ibrohim Usmonov, member of the National Reconciliation Commission who worked in Afghanistan for several years, told the participants of the online conference about a number of problems that Afghanistan might face. Tajikistan’s experience can be useful if all the warring parties in Afghanistan forgive each other and agree to sit down at the negotiating table. However, for now this has not yet happened.
“Despite the fact that serious negotiations were held in Germany, a serious dialogue between the warring parties has not yet taken place. All the conflicting parties are not yet ready to sit down at the negotiating table.”
Ibrohim Usmonov highlighted one more element without which achieving peace would be difficult: changing the Constitution and ensuring transparent, free and fair elections. “When the election results are not declared within one or two days, and rather it takes a week, the results of this election will raise suspicion,” said Usmonov.
This notion was shared by Saidkhuja Akbarov, representative of the Center for Strategic Studies under the President of RT. Signaling at the results of the last elections, when both Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah declared themselves winners of the election, Akbarov said that this kind of situation is not conducive to peace and stability. He stated that Afghanistan needs a fair leader who will bring the people of Afghanistan toward reaching an agreement.
Nurali Davlatov, journalist-historian and analyst who has studied the civil war in Tajikistan for many years, said that the experience of Tajikistan cannot be applied in establishing peace in Afghanistan due to the fact that in Tajikistan, the main geopolitical players at that time were truly interested in establishing peace in the region.
“At that time, the United States and China were not pursuing their interests in the region. There were only two players – Iran and Russia, who did not want war in Tajikistan. Now the situation is quite different. Many countries have their own geopolitical interests in Afghanistan, making it difficult to achieve peace,” said Davlatov.
Qosimi Begmuhammad, a Tajik analyst, noted that the warring parties in Tajikistan forgave each other for the sake of the nation. “Because at the time, there was a possibility that Tajikistan could disappear as a country. As long as the Afghans do not understand and do not forgive each other, as long as they do not put the interests of their country before the interests of their tribes or peoples, peace cannot be achieved in the country,” said Qosimi Begmuhammad.
The participants of the online conference asked questions and shared their opinion on the development of political processes in both countries. There was consensus that the establishment of peace and its preservation is a priority for the peoples of the two neighboring countries.
The online conference was implemented within the framework of a three-year project “Empowering Media and Civil Society Activists to Support Democratic Reforms in Tajikistan” supported by the European Union under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) as well as Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The project aims at promoting democratic reforms in Tajikistan by encouraging closer cooperation between leading human rights activists and independent media; improving the capacity of independent media to conduct investigative journalism projects and analytical reporting; and stimulating constructive dialogue within and between human rights CSOs, media, and local and national government officials concerning a variety of issues affecting the socio-economic life of the country.