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The Delicate Delegates…

Fawzia Koofi was chastised for using nail polish in the past. As the Taliban used to rule Afghanistan at that time, it was mandatory for the women and girls to wear Burqa at public places. There have been instances where the women were beheaded openly in a stadium after Friday Prayers on charges of adultery!

The scenario is different in the war-ravaged South Asian Nation in 2020. Now, Koofi is attending Peace Talks between the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban guerrillas! She is not alone, as three more Afghan women are taking part in the Talks… Fatima Gailani, Habiba Sarābi and Sharifa Zurmati. These four women, who had endured the Taliban’s oppressive rule, are the members of the Negotiating Team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Although they are outnumbered by the rest of the Afghan Government’s 17-member Negotiating Team in Doha, their presence at the negotiating table is significant in patriarchal Afghanistan.

Fawzia Koofi

After attending the Peace Talks on September 12, Koofi was heard saying: “The Taliban have to understand that they are facing a new Afghanistan with which they have to learn to live.” So far, the Talibans have attacked her twice. The last one took place in August 2020. She informed the local media in Doha that the girls were getting an opportunity to study and to choose the profession as per their wish in Kabul and other big Afghan cities. However, the scenario is completely different in rural Afghanistan… and, they want to change this scenario! “Being in such an important role is not something which is very common in Afghanistan, so you really have to find your way among those people who do not believe in a woman’s presence,” stressed Koofi.

The other three delegates, too, have expressed similar views. Habiba Sarābi had to leave her country, and to take refuge in neighbouring Pakistan during the Taliban Regime. The Talibans attacked her, as she was a teacher! Upon her arrival in Afghanistan, Sarābi became the Governor of an Afghan Province. She also served as a Minister twice in recent past. She believes that the mentality of the top Taliban leadership still remains the same. However, Sarābi considers the ongoing Peace Talks with the hard-liners as a positive development!

Habiba Sarābi

The 68-year-old Fatima Gailani has showered praises on the male members of the Government’s Negotiating Team, saying that all of them are very much supportive. “They believe in exactly what I believe in,” she told the media. She further said: “Every woman in Afghanistan has a fear… we always have a fear that whenever there are changes in Afghanistan and whenever there is a political change, always women are the ones who get hurt first, and the most.

Fatima Gailani

It is to be noted that the US had signed a deal with the Taliban in February 2020 before withdrawing foreign troops, in return for a pledge from the insurgents to hold talks with the Afghan Government in an attempt to end the Civil War.

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