Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta’s Speech at the Second Round of the Vienna Talks
Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta’s Speech at the Second Round of the Vienna Talks
Vienna, the capital of Austria, April 24-26, 2023
I am glad to have been given the opportunity to speak at the Second Vienna Conference/Vienna Meeting on Afghanistan.
It is a great pleasure that, once more, I get to meet my dear friends and fellow countrymen on this fortuitous occasion. I hope we can have a result-oriented open dialogue on solutions to the political, security, cultural and economic catastrophe currently reigning over our homeland.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Fellow Afghans,
I would like to express my gratitude to the Kreisky Forum, Ambassador Patrick, and all our Austrian hosts, Mr. Safa and his esteemed family, my dear fellow countrymen and all other contributors, thanks to whose efforts this meeting has been arranged.
It has been twenty months since the surrender of power to the Taliban and their global sympathisers. Over the course of those twenty months, our country has fallen a hundred years behind the progressing caravan of human civilisation. With the passing of every single day that Afghan girls and women are deprived of receiving an education and barred from their occupations, society is further emptied of a spirit of tolerance, and political and administrative apparatuses are further subordinated to an ever-expanding primitive ideology and mindset. Afghanistan is thus increasingly detached from the civilised world and primitivism is promoted to the status of a socio-political universality in the country.
One hundred years of Afghan justice-seekers’ struggles and all their endeavours for the establishment of a ruling power rooted in the will of the people and their efforts for the sustainment of a law-abiding government failed to produce the desired outcome, and Afghanistan is now facing a horrifying civilisational collapse. We are losing all of the facets of contemporary governance, our progress toward social liberation and the minimisation of social justice.
The courageous struggles of the women of Afghanistan, being worthy of admiration and a place in the canons of our epic literature, have nonetheless been met with fear and abstention from the much-needed resistance by us, Afghan men and politicans.
The unstinting self-sacrifices of the brave youth of Afghanistan in our towns and mountains has not yet been duly reflected in our daily struggles amid the clamour of all the disagreements, dim fighting prospects and an over-reliance on foreign assistance.
Our contemporary history has taught us time and again that an over-reliance on the assistance of foreigners and great powers does not bring about lasting peace and the restoration of a law-abiding government. Resistance does not require permission.
Expecting regional and global powers to cultivate peace is a terrible and agonising delusion, which in an environment of defeatism and political failure as the one we have experienced in the past, leads only to the perpetuation of the existing autocratic and regressive regime.
The Taliban and their international terrorist allies have learned from experience that in the current geopolitical global situation it is possible to gain power with recourse to terrorism and violence. The success of the Taliban thanks to the Doha Peace Negotiations and the political bankruptcy/exhaustion of Afghanistan’s political class has become an inspiration for terrorists worldwide.
The Taliban’s power grab, the obliteration of all signs of the rule of the people and the annihilation of a responsible government and good governance in Afghanistan are not the concerns of any foreign nation; these are only the concerns of the people of Afghanistan.
We are painfully aware that terrorism is now going to live on in our world and will spread in our region. There is now the possibility that our country will sadly become a safe haven for global terrorism. Terrorism is not the main concern of the great global powers; their biggest concern is to escalate competition between political ideologies and the perpetuation or moderation of global dominance.
But, fortunately, another 9/11 followed by an invasion of our country by US and NATO forces to rescue us from the Taliban and their terrorist allies is impossible. And more importantly we have learned from experience that even if such a thing were to happen ever again, we have to stand against them from the very beginning.
The reason for the on-going troubles in Afghanistan lies in the intervention of the USSR, the West, and our neighbours during the era of the Jihad, US military campaigns and Pakistan’s increasing interference in our internal affairs.
We must not forget that the world today has other priorities; we must stop deluding ourselves. The current global competition in Afghanistan is not aimed at joining forces with independence-seeking, Democratic and Patriotic forces and rescuing the men and women of Afghanistan from captivity under their current rulers.
They are mostly after utilising systematic and organised regression, violence and ignorance chez Taliban and ISIS for the purpose of strengthening or modifying global dominance.
Both liberal democracies and authoritarian regimes—i.e. both the US, Western Europe and India on the one hand, and the PRC, Russia, Pakistan and Iran on the other—on both ends of the political spectrum are interested in the cooperation of terrorists for the realisation of their greater agendas.
With the exception of Tajikistan, to be honest, we must admit that setting up base in the capitals of regional powers not only failed to reinforce our fighting capabilities, but has been an obstacle in our struggles and an impediment for independent decision-making.
In other words, this forced emigration and painful exile might lead us to the same fate as the Ghazis who emigrated to British India. The fate of Amir Ayub Khan, the Victor of Maiwand, the commander of Herati Ghazis in the Battle of Maiwand is a lesson for us all.
Domestically, we are repeatedly losing opportunities. Unity is constantly disrupted under the disguise of cries for unity. Even when there is unity, it has been the unity of passive spectators. Such unity might serve to encourage the main actors, but it does not promote us to real actors on the political scene.
Frankly, I don’t hold myself to be an exception. I am, first and foremost, criticising myself.
Until such time as we rise to become a strong alternative with a significant presence in society, no one will want to negotiate with us and neither the people of Afghanistan nor the world will pay us serious attention.
Even though I believe it is my moral responsibility to honestly and persistently support the struggles of the youth who have taken up arms to defend the dignity of our people in the towns and mountains of our homeland, and admire their valour, I must confess that my associates and I stand for peaceful political struggle in Afghanistan and under the current circumstances we do not wish to engage in armed conflict.
But we must also understand that those who are in the seat of power would not negotiate with weak and incapable forces over peace and the distribution of power.
That is why we need to be united in our fight. Squabbling over who sits where at the table can be resolved with cooperation through active military and political struggles. This issue should not be on the agenda of our discussions. Many political and military leaders of the world emerged at the forefront of history through unity.
Defining bold and courageous socio-political grand principles and reaching an agreement on the fundamentals of a political regime for our country must be carried out in a way that major common points are promoted to become the fundamental principles underlying our union, and disagreements must be set aside.
A political system with horizontal and vertical distribution of power, meaning the institutionalisation of the tripartite separation of powers, decentralisation in compliance with the will of the people, respecting well-established values like the principle of republicanism, our tricolour flag, the territorial integrity and indivisability of Afghanistan, independence and the rule of the people, impartiality in foreign policy, the principles of good neighbourliness and the peaceful resolution of disagreements, a constitution that guarantees the rights and freedom of our men and women, dedication to the rule of law and a law-abiding government, and elections where necessary, are all issues that can serve as a common ground for cooperation among different political factions.
But even reaching an agreement on these values is not enough by itself. We have to be present in the fight. The history of successful nations teaches us that resistance does not require permission.
I am addressing the young men and women who have to step forward and bring their capabilities and creative forces to this fight and shake divisive political leaders and older generations from their stupor.
The fight for the establishment of a just and democratic state cannot be tied to the permission and confirmation of others. Just as importantly, it must not be reduced to diplomatic meetings and civil activism abroad.
This dark night is destined to end. Even though it might seem as though the light of day is now lost beyond the horizon, have no doubt that a new dawn will rise.
Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta Chairperson of AISS Advisory Board/ Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Vienna talks is the prominent anti-Taliban Afghan politicians and civil activists meeting which came together to discuss “coordinated political actions” against the Taliban. The first round of this talks was held by the Austrian Research Institute from September 15 to 17, 2022 in Vienna with the presence of 30 anti-Taliban personalities.