An open letter to President Karzai – Stop selling our rights!

The Jalal Foundation writes: Your Excellency President Karzai, This is an open letter from the women of your country to whom you have turned a deaf ear since you started to dance to the music and drink from the cups of the Talibans and their fundamentalist representatives in your government. We know that you are under pressure to make the peace process work. And for this reason, we know how much concessions you need to make to bring back these criminals and butchers of women’s rights to the mainstream of national life.

It is a difficult position that you are taking; and that, we understand. But you do not need to elevate the practice of ‘baad’ to the level of national policy and law making. You do not need to sell the daughters of your nation to appease the fundamentalists that you have brought to your administration. You just have to look at the many girls and young women who were exchanged through ‘baad’ in order to know how miserable their life had become.  Their unfortunate fate would befall each and every woman of this country and the many girls who will be born after them, unless you listen to your conscience as a devout Muslim and stand your ground as a leader of this valiant nation. Don’t allow your esteemed self to go down in history as the President who delivered democracy and women’s rights to the guillotines of fundamentalism.

The list of your sins against the women of this country is getting long. First, you endorsed the Ulema Council’s Resolution that put women into subordinate position despite your commitment to defend the Constitution and the rights of your people. Second, you marginalized women’s voice in the development of the peace and transition framework and ignored that women never acceded to the point of making peace with the Taliban. Third, you never made good of your promises to implement the national policies and programs for the promotion of Afghan women’s empowerment and gender equality. Fourth, you remained silent amidst debates on the legality of your decree on the Elimination of Violence against Women. Fifth, you lifted no finger in delivering justice to the many women who lost their lives and honor to the hands of their murderers and sexual offenders. And last Saturday, you signed the National Election Law that removed the provision on the 25 percent quota for women in the provincial and district councils.

And what is next, Mr. President?  This is too much to bear. This is treason. And if natural justice prevails in this part of the world, may it have mercy upon you and the women in your family. It is never too late to make amends. We ask you to use your remaining days in office to cement the foundations of women’s rights that were paved by your early administration. It is not a shame to take the side of what is fair and right. It is not an embarrassment to make a stand on behalf of half of your constituents. And it is not cowardice to accept that you are making big mistakes in sabotaging the gains of women under your administration. This is not about politics, Mr. President. This is about being a good President, being a dignified Afghan, being an honorable  Muslim, and being a champion of democracy in this part of the world.

We do not want you to leave with a legacy of hate brewing within our hearts.  You have done good things for us and we want to keep remembering you as one of our greatest allies. Give us a chance to dialogue with you on how to put things right before you step down from office in the following nine months.  Let those nine months create a silver horizon for Afghan women’s rights.  Give it a chance.  The women of Afghanistan are not thankless electorates. We will remember everything in the next election. For now, the ball is in your hands.

The Jalal Foundation is  an Afghan women-led, women-focused Organisation