Members of People’s Peace Movement on Thursday said Russian diplomats at the embassy in Kabul have pledged to not support any armed group waging war against the Afghan government.
The movement’s leader Iqbal Khyber said the Russian embassy in Kabul clarified the nature of their contact with the armed groups, particularly with the Taliban, in an official document.
Meanwhile in a statement issued by the embassy, it stated in line with the activists demands for peace, Russia is ready to cooperate with the Afghan government in this respect.
“The Russian Federation will continue its peaceful and transparent policy towards Afghanistan and expresses its readiness towards cooperating with the Afghan government and its international partners to promote constructive talks and undertake effective measures towards preventing further bloodshed in the country,” said the embassy in a letter to the peace activists.
The letter also states that Russia rejects all claims of conducting a proxy war in Afghanistan and that Russia strongly opposes the use of Afghanistan’s soil by any other country to wage war.
“The Russian Federation strongly supports the efforts of the people and the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan towards restoring peace and stability in the country. We believe that members of the peace convoy by continuing their protests can play an effective role towards maintaining peace in Afghanistan and towards conducting negotiations with the Taliban.
“Our country is in favor of a strong, sovereign, drug and terrorism clean Afghanistan. We also want the people of Afghanistan to be happy and be confident about their future in the light of economic prosperity and political stability in their country,” read the letter.
After spending six days in front of the Russian embassy, protestors on Thursday moved on and are setting up camp in front of the Pakistani embassy.
“We received a written document from them (Russian embassy) in which they pledged to not support any party to the conflict,” said the movement’s leader Iqbal Khyber
In the letter to the peace activists, the Russian embassy stated that their contacts with the Taliban was limited only to the security of Russian citizens in Afghanistan and to encourage the militant group to endorse purposeful peace talks with the Afghan government.
Peace activists also called on the Russian people and government to use their influence and press Afghanistan’s neighboring nations to contribute towards restoring peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Peace activists said on Thursday they will establish their sit-in camp in front of the Pakistani embassy for an indefinite period.
The Movement Started In Helmand
The peace activists, known initially as the Helmand Peace Convoy, 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.
From there they moved to the Russian embassy, where they spent five day.
On Thursday the headed off for the next phase, outside the Pakistani embassy.
The activists, whose ages range from 17 to 65, come from all walks of life and include students, athletes and farmers among others.