KABUL – High Council of National Reconciliation (HCNR) representatives were joined over the weekend by a group of Afghan youth and women from provinces around Kabul in a peace outreach event at which they presented a declaration listing their expectations of peace talks in Doha.
Young Afghans from across the central provinces of Kabul, Kapisa, Logar, Maidan Wardak, Panjshir and Parwan in a series of online discussions developed a vision of peace that they wanted. They selected 34 peers who then conveyed to HCNR Deputy Head, Asadullah Saadati, a strong call for the prioritization of a reduction in violence and a ceasefire.
"The peace negotiations give us both hope and fear," said Dewa Amarkhail a participant from Maidan Wardak province, "but our first demand from both sides is a ceasefire and to reduce the casualties."
Amarkhail and his peers also urged that negotiations be transparent and accessible so that all Afghans can follow developments.
"Afghans need to be aware of the decisions being made in the negotiations and see whether or not they reflect their interests,” argued Jamshid, a student from Parwan.
For Kapisa youth and participant, Sara Sirat, no less than 30 percent women, particularly victims of the conflict, should be included in the negotiations team. She added that human rights, freedom of expression and the rights of women per the constitution and Islamic values should be upheld.
The expectations shared by the youth reps echoed those shared by many other young Afghans who say that they are pinning their hopes on an agreement that builds on the gains of the last two-decades and a future of peace, equality and opportunity for all.
The High Council of National Reconciliation was a body established in May to help provide guidance and oversight of the peace process for the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
The meeting was organised by UNAMA in partnership with HCNR and the 'Women and Youth of Kabul City’.
Mr Saadati welcomed the declaration and said he would share it with the government negotiating team in Doha. He also assured the participants of HCNR's commitment to engage with Afghans throughout the peace talks.