Senator-elect Afrasiab Khan Khattak Sunday resolved
that the Awami National Party led coalition government would never compromise on
women’s right to education and said the government had started serious
endeavours to establish a lasting peace in Swat.

"We will fight the forces of retrogression and darkness. The forces of evil will
certainly be defeated and justice will prevail. Those who destroyed Rahman
Baba’s shrine will never succeed in their nefarious missions," he said while
addressing a Women Peace Jirga at the famous Nishtar Hall Peshawar.

The Jirga was convened in connection with the International Women’s Day,
arranged by Women associated to the party.

Afrasiab said peace meant equality and equality
ensures equal rights to all human being, adding that the ANP believed that all
human being are equal irrespective of their religion, caste, colour and creed.

He said that those who believed that the fire that was burning in Pakhtun land
would remain limited to the province were seriously mistaken. He appealed to all
the political parties and civil society organizations to support peace process
in the province as the whole country’s future is at stake.

Talking about the declaration that was presented in the jirga, the provincial
President of ANP said that declaration was the will of Pakhtun women to restore
peace and also their explicitly mentioned right to education, health and
progress. He also clarified they will never allow any law that denies women
their basic right and dignity.

The speakers were of the opinion that insurgency and counter-insurgency
strategies were threatening women’s equal rights and participation, mobility and
access to socio-economic and political development.


The jirga also announced a declaration that expressed concern about the civilian
population, particularly women affected by the increasing militancy, extremism
and extended military operations in the province and Federally Administrated
Tribal Areas (FATA) that resulted in mass migration.

The declaration also stated that women of the Pakhtunkhwa Province believed that
human rights and humanitarian standards that guarantee their protection were
being violated with impunity resulting in serious humanitarian crises on the
ground, negatively impacting a durable peace and reconciliation.

The announcement also underlined the need for reaffirming the important role of
women in the prevention of violence and in peace building, stressing the
importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for
maintenance and promotion of peace and security.

Besides, they said the need to increase women’s role in decision making with
regard to peace and reconciliation was also essential.

The declaration stated that the womenfolk decided to continue with the peace
jirga process to jointly assess the effects of conflict on women and children;
recommend resolution; and effectively participate in peace-building process at
all levels.

It also called upon the political parties, government and international
community that while negotiating and implementing peace agreements, they should
facilitate women’s participation in all levels of decision-making.

The women peace jirga also called for facilitating women’s peace, reconciliation
and reconstruction initiatives and ensure protection and respect for the human
rights of women and girls.

The jirga wanted an end to impunity and prosecution of those responsible for
genocide, crimes against humanity, including those relating to sexual violence
against women and girls.

The jirga sought an independent humanitarian commission to analyse the extent of
devastation as a result of insurgency and military operations and recommend
adequate compensation.

"Ensure that girls are able to attend schools in their local areas and have
access to quality education without fear. Arrange for temporary education
facilities, especially for girls where schools have been destroyed and commit to
reconstruction of education and health facilities at the earliest," the jirga

Later, the participants staged a rally. Holding white flags, a symbol of peace,
they were chanting slogans for restoration of peace in the region. The rally
marched up to the Rahman Baba Chowk, wherefrom they dispersed peacefully.