In July 2019, the 7th round of talks between the US and the Taliban and the first round of intra-Afghan dialogue were held in Doha, Qatar. Afghan citizens have widely been excluded from these talks and there have been few opportunities to voice their opinions about the current peace process. In response, Time4RealPeace and Safa FM Radio in Nangarhar, ran a radio poll during its programming to ask citizens in eastern Afghanistan their opinions on sustainable peace and their preferences on key issues that will impact their lives and futures.*
Over the week, 212 Afghans called in to the radio station to express their views and voice their preferences. They called in from a number of districts, urban and rural, in Nangarhar, Laghman, and Kunar. including Achin, Alingar, Asadabad, Azra, Batikoot, Behsood, Chaparhar, Darah Noor, Daronta, Ghani Khail, Goshta, Haska Mena, Jalalabad City, Kama, Khewa, Khugyani, Koot, Lalpoor, Mehtarlam, Pacher Agam, Roodat, Sawkay, Shenwar, Sherzad, Surkhrud, Qarghai, Watapur.
This poll aimed to give Afghan citizens excluded from peace talks, but suffering the most from continued violence, the opportunity to express their views. Most of the callers lived in districts that have experienced higher rates of violence and include both government and Taliban controlled territory.
In their candid answers, the callers expressed:
- A preference for the Taliban to join the state through elections over power-sharing (94 percent)
- An overwhelming (96 percent) commitment to the political institutions enshrined in the current constitution, and rejected the establishment of an interim government
When asked what they would say to the Taliban and the government, the foremost demand was a ceasefire, followed by the need for the Taliban to sit with the Afghan government, to begin to create the environment for a sustainable peace in the country.
Below are a number of individual demands from different districts.
Afghan citizens must be allowed to determine their country's future. Time4RealPeace calls for all political actors, in Afghanistan and abroad, to heed the will of its people and ensure that the current process meaningfully includes the interests of Afghan women, young people, minority communities and democratic institutions.
* Over a period of 16 days during their regular programming, Safa Radio (based in Jalalabad, Nangarhar) asked listeners to call in and respond to the following four questions:
Safa Radio recorded the three multiple choice and one free-response questions as they fielded 212 calls from their listeners. The findings provide a snapshot into the private attitudes and beliefs of Afghan citizens in the east of the country. While we acknowledge the limits of extrapolation from an opt-in survey, Time4RealPeace feels that the need for political discussions to be informed by the attitudes of the public superseded such limitations. As such, findings should be interpreted with appropriate modulation. However, what can be inarguably derived from the survey, is that there is a large attitude of support for current constitutional and democratic structures, even in regions contested, controlled, or strongly influenced by non-state elements.