A large number of Helmand residents and activists, including women, staged a rally in Lashkargah city to protest the announcement of a spring offensive by the Taliban and the security plan by the Afghan government.
Last year in June, the Afghan government and the Taliban agreed on a three-day ceasefire which was widely welcomed by Afghans. The Helmand residents said a similar ceasefire should be announced in the coming Ramadan but this time it should be longer.
Taliban announced their spring offensive called “Alfatha” on April 12 and declared that it was in response to the Afghan government’s operation announcement.
The Afghan government announced a security plan, called Khalid Operation, on March 13 and according to a Presidential Palace statement, the announcement is not a barrier on the way of peace, rather it provides the ground for moving forward the peace process.
Members of the rally said the two sides should announce a ceasefire in the coming Ramadhan to honor the “sacred month”.
“We are calling for a ceasefire once again and we condemn both the (spring) operations,” said a rally member.
Another Helmand resident said, “those women who have attended the rally have lost their sons either in pro-Taliban and anti-Taliban fights and they want a ceasefire as they have been tired of war”.
The women, who attended the rally, carried photos of their loved ones who they have lost in the war and violence.
Sitara, a given name, a Helmand resident, said she lost her husband in a battle and that she has attended the rally to prevent her fate to other women.
“We have lost our loved ones. I have nothing but I have to grow my children,” she said.