Members of People’s Peace Movement on Friday started a journey of walking barefoot to Mazar-e-Sharif City, the capital of northern Balkh province, to continue their mission on the settlement of the ongoing conflict in the country.
The leader of the 15-member group Iqbal Khyber said they will walk the 550 kilometers distance between the Kabul to Mazar – by walking 20 kilometers every day.
Their aim, he said, is to pass on the message of peace to the people in the northern regions of Afghanistan.
Members of the movement are expected to exchange views on the prospects of peace in the country with tribal elders, religious dignitaries and residents in the provinces lying on their way towards Balkh.
“We talk with the people on the way. We will talk with religious scholars and residents of local communities and will ask them to support the peace process, because the key for peace is on the people’s hand. The war will continue unless the people raise their voices for peace,” said Bismillah Watandost, a spokesman for People’s Peace Movement.
The activists arrived in Kabul on June 18 after having walked for 38 days to get to the capital.
The peace activists are trying to enforce a permanent ceasefire between warring factions in the country.
“The war in Afghanistan is ongoing for the past 41 years. We need to fight a lot to eradicate the roots of war. Peace wants sacrifice and we are prepared for this sacrifice,” said Aminullah Wardak, member of the movement.
“We will walk 20 kilometers daily. This time we will walk barefoot,” said movement leader Iqbal Khyber.
“This is not a difficult task for us to make the people aware. We are prepared for more sacrifices,” said Padshah Khan, member of the movement.
The Movement Started 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 in Kabul.
The movement called on the British government to put pressure on Pakistan to stop its interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.