Former Afghan mayor may settle in Switzerland

GENEVA: One of Afghanistan’s first woman mayors, Zarifa Ghafari could settle in Switzerland, according to local media, which said that efforts are underway to obtain a special permit for the political activist who fled Kabul last month after Taliban took control.

Ghafari is set to travel to Bern with her Swiss entourage to plead her case before several parliamentarians, the Swiss media reported.
“It’s not my government,” the 29-year-old, who was mayor of Maydan Shahr from 2019 until June of this year, said in an interview with local media about Afghanistan’s new rulers.

The Taliban spokesman on Tuesday unveiled a list of ministers of the new government of a restored Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan The all male list includes a member of the Hazara minority and a significant absence in the Islamic Emirate is the ministry of women, which has not been renewed. For decades, the greatest victims of violence have been women but it is the men who always benefit, insists Gharari, who also worked for the ministry of defence.

“We are not the women of 20 years ago,” she said. The Taliban “will not be able to govern without half the country”, women who have not waged a war, are not corrupt. Since arriving in Germany a few weeks ago via Pakistan, Ghafari has increased calls for Afghan women in the international media, asking the international community to negotiate with the Taliban.

During the peace talks in Geneva, she said: “I am ready to speak” with the Taliban because they will be there “for year”. “I want to speak to them on behalf of all the Afghan women who have already paid a high price” for the war but also for its consequences.

Both the UN and NGOs including the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) based in Geneva, denounced human rights violations since the Taliban came to power a month ago. Women’s rights, especially to education, have been curtailed despite promises from the Islamic Emirate. Several protesters were killed.

According to Zarifa Ghafari, the international community has excluded the Afghans from the recent talks and must pressure Pakistan to push the Islamic Emirate to negotiate. Recently, a resolution before the UN Human Rights Council supported by Islamabad had provoked much criticism, due to the lack of any request for an international investigation into human rights violations by the Taliban, local media reported.

The activism of the former mayor could also soon be more lasting from Switzerland. Germany has granted Zarifa Ghafari refugee status, but the young woman wants to be able to work and speak freely. On Thursday, she will travel to Bern with her Swiss entourage to plead her case before several parliamentarians, the latter told Keystone-ATS. (ANI)