It seems that lately, when we in the U.S. talk about the conflict in Afghanistan, the idea of peace achieved through victory – and the death of an enemy – is at the front of our minds. Yet here we have a courageous Afghani woman, who led underground efforts to educate women during the Taliban regime, saying that peace is not built so easily.
You can listen to an 8-minute version of the interview on our website, which includes her work during the Taliban years. This is a transcript of some of Orzala’s thoughts on building peace:
I think that the approach the government in this country and even the international community took [in the years since the military defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan] was not the collaborative part of our experience, as we discussed this morning. It was, rather, avoiding conflict. In order to show something to the world: “Look, we win this war,” they avoided many conflicts existing in this country. For example, there have been enormous atrocities, enormous violations of human rights; nobody discusses it.
We have this famous proverb that says “teer pa heer.” Teer means past, and heer means forgetting: we should forget the past. My strong belief is that as long as we go on with this teer pa heer ideology or policy in saying we have to forget what happens in the past, we are not going to have a really good future. And in this country the main approach was this teer pa heer approach: to say, “OK, whatever is past, we forget it.” That’s the result of returning back to a fragile situation, because we did not really resolve the conflicts existing, but rather we avoid looking at them.
The Karuna Center training in which Orzala Ashraf participated was given in partnership with our colleagues at the Institute for Inclusive Security, who recently issued an update on their continued work with Afghan women leaders.