The activists said their campaign for peace will continue to other provinces to pass on their message to everyone in Afghanistan.
Activists Meet Balkh Residents, Insist Peace Will Come
Members of People’s Peace Movement held talks with Balkh residents in the north of Afghanistan as they arrived in Mazar-e-Sharif City on Friday after a 34-day walking journey, barefoot. They said they are sure that peace will be “finally” ensured in Afghanistan.
The activists were warmly welcomed by Balkh residents and members of the provincial council in Ferdawsi Circle where they gathered and talked about peace. The activists went to the Blue Mosque as well.
Talking to the people, members of the movement said they have met many people during their journey from Kabul to Balkh and that everyone wants an end to the war.
“There is no power bigger than Almighty Allah’s. By having this in our minds, we left our homes to bring the people together and raise our voices for peace,”said Iqbal Khyber, leader of the peace movement.
Ehsanullah Quraishi, who joined the peace movement in Baghlan province, said there is no family in Afghanistan who has not suffered from the war.
“Afghans should follow the route to peace and should select a specific place for peace and come together there,” said Quraishi.
The peace activists were warmly welcomed by Balkh residents who stressed the need for unity among Afghans.
“By such moves, we can play an effective role in bringing peace to the country,” Balkh resident Rafiullah said.
“We should increase pressure on government and insurgents to bring peace to Afghanistan,” said Afzal Hadid, head of Balkh Provincial Council.
The peace activists said they will tackle any threats in their efforts for peace and that pressure from any group cannot stop them from their will.
The Journey Began In Helmand
The peace activists initially launched their protest in Lashkargah City after a suicide bombing outside a stadium in March. About a month later, a group of eight protestors left Helmand on foot for Kabul.
The activists walked through towns and villages, crossed provinces and met with local residents along the way. For 38 days, they walked and as they progressed, so their numbers grew.
About 700kms later, the group of eight had grown to an estimated 100. They arrived in Kabul on June 18 and handed over demands for a ceasefire and peace to both the Afghan government and the Taliban.
The group gave the Taliban three days in which to answer and said if they failed to do so, they would embark on sit in protests outside diplomatic offices and missions in the capital.
The Taliban’s deadline passed without any response. The activists then held a three-day sit-in protest outside UNAMA’s office in Kabul. They sent a letter to the UN Secretary General António Guterres in which they asked him not to remain indifferent towards ending the ongoing war in Afghanistan.
From there, they moved on to the US embassy – where they stayed for nine days. The activists sent a letter to the American people, asking them to put pressure on the US government to end the war in Afghanistan.
The activists, whose ages range from 17 to 65, come from all walks of life and include students, athletes and farmers among others.
The activists also established sit-in protest camp in front of Iranian, Pakistan, Russian and British embassies as well as the office of the European Union in Kabul.
The movement called on Afghan allies to put pressure on Pakistan to stop its interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.