Members of the People’s Peace Movement, also called the Helmand Peace Convoy, held a gathering in Jalalabad city in Nangarhar province on Sunday where they said that countries in the region and beyond are seeking their benefit in the ongoing war in Afghanistan. They said these countries are not in favor of lasting peace in the country.
Head of the movement, Iqbal Khyber, said peace will be ensured in Afghanistan if the international community, particularly the United States, decides to maintain peace in the country.
“This war is the US and Russia war, the Pakistan and India war and it is the Arabs and the non-Arabs. You (Afghans) are damaged in it,” Khyber said.
“Taliban and Afghan forces are brothers. No one has the right to create war between them from the high-ranking levels. All of them have families and children,” said Mohammad Nekzad, member of the movement.
Religious scholars at the gathering said the ongoing war in the country is not in favor of any country or group.
“Peace needs to be maintained and should be negotiated among those who are fighting against each other. Taliban needs to sit with President Ghani and should put an end to the war,” said Mawlawi Abdulhadi, a religious scholar.
“Those who pick up guns, including Taliban and Daesh, have no honor. They are killing the people,” said Alia, a student in Nangarhar.
Other speakers at the event called on warring parties to leave no stone unturned in reaching their goals through peace talks.
The Helmand Peace Convoy
They got the name when a group of at least a dozen activists staged a protest in Lashkargah City last year on March 2018 against an attack that killed around 16 people that month. About a month later, the activists 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.
During their stay in Kabul, they held sit-in protests outside diplomatic offices in Kabul. They also met with President Ghani on a Kabul street where they asked him to accelerate the peace efforts.
The activists, whose ages ranged from 17 to 65, came from all walks of life and include students, athletes and farmers among others. It was these and other activists that then extended their walk from Kabul to Balkh.