WASHINGTON — Afghanistan’s ambassador to the U.S. said her country will never go back to how it was under the Taliban, even with a peace plan the includes the hardline entity.
“I strongly believe there is no going back (that) there is a shift in mindset,” Roya Rahmani, Afghan ambassador to the U.S, said at a forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “ It is irreversible the people’s mindsets are different You cannot bring them back to the darkness.”
Rahmani’s public appearance Thursday night coincided with that of Afghan’s foreign minister conducting meetings in Washington and the first public remarks by Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special negotiator for Afghanistan — all underscoring public momentum for the first steps toward peace talks by the Taliban and the United States.
Khalilzad said Friday the Taliban has agreed to the beginnings of a possible framework for peace and that he hoped a plan would be completed by summer.
The ambassador has been in the Washington Post for seven weeks. She said that her early takeaway is how most people she meets are surprised that she is so optimistic.
“What we have achieved in the past 17 years always inspires me,” Rahmani said. “I am saying that with a lot of honesty. When I was growing up, it was not imaginable.”
Ramani said Afghanistan should be fully self-self-sufficient by 2025. She said the economic development in many areas of the country is positioning the nation to be a transportation and economic hub for South Asia — much as it had been for centuries before being wrecked by war.
“Already we may have a combative advantage in quality if not in quantity,” Rahmani said.
An entire generation of women have attended schools and universities since the Taliban – which banned education for women – was ousted in 2001. There are now 3.6 million women in school and Rahmani noted the many Afghan students in the audience to hear her remarks.
Maintaining women’s rights and human rights is imperative in any peace agreement with the Taliban, Rahmani and others have declared.
Asked if the Taliban has changed, Rahmani said that “hopes are there, hopes are high and I am full of hopes.”
However, she said the Taliban has not demonstrated that they have changed.
“ I haven’t seen the signs,” she said. “This needs to be proven.
“Whether they have changed or not, we have changed,” Rahmani said. “We have changed. We are not ready to go back.”