The Afghan, Canadian, and Qatari officials discussed the Afghan peace process in a virtual expert meeting hosted by Afghanistan’s State Ministry for Peace and the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Ottawa, in collaboration with Canada’s Global Centre for Pluralism.
Delivering the keynote address, Sayed Sadat Mansoor Naderi, State Minister for Peace of Afghanistan, said “For nearly five decades, violence has been the defining factor of life in Afghanistan. It has been the main political capital, the main driving force in the economic market and the foundation of social relationships at the grassroots level. This has to change and the peace process offers the opportunity to do just that,” Naderi said.
Naderi further added that Afghanistan and the region around it, for centuries in human history, has been a melting pot of various cultures and ideas, interacting with each other, which had enabled the development of a unique civilizational identity.
However, he said the region sunk into a long period of political instability, economic degradation and cultural conservatism as it gradually lost its diversity and more intolerant ideologies became the norm.
“What differentiates us from the Taliban is the diversity and pluralism of our constituency and the capacity of our institutions to represent and reflect that diversity,” he said, adding that “The Taliban on the other hand, represent a limited group of narrow likeminded people with extreme views.”
According to Naderi, the Taliban has not shown the slightest signs of compromise and flexibility towards the rest of the country, continue their wave of violence and still strongly push for a military takeover. “They have not shown any understanding of human and women’s rights, they have not projected any respect for the diversity and pluralism of Afghan society.”
“So, making this process work requires creative thinking and imagination. But it also requires strong and united political messaging, not just from political forces under the banner of the republic, but also our international partners to make it clear to the Taliban that they have no way to become part of the mainstream political scene in Afghanistan except by engaging in a cooperative dialogue with the rest of the Afghan society,” Naderi added.
Reid Sirrs, Ambassador of Canada to Afghanistan, Saoud Abdulla Al-Mahmoud, Ambassador of Qatar to Canada, Ms. Meredith Preston McGhie, Secretary-General of the Global Centre for Pluralism and Mr. Chris Thornton, Senior Advisor for the Center, also delivered remarks on how pluralism can contribute to the Afghan Peace Process.
The Embassy of Afghanistan in a statement said the speakers discussed diversity and inclusion in the context of the Afghan peace process and how it can contribute to sustainable peace in the country.
The statement further added that speakers described inclusion as a critical element and a guiding principle in both peace-making and peace-building efforts and stressed the importance of meaningful participation of all stakeholder groups including women and minorities in the peace process.
The speakers also highlighted the importance of continued conversation, research and exchange of experiences with a view to help deepen understanding of pluralism and its applications in the peace process.