The Taliban’s demands were made after dozens of women joined a peace rally in Helmand in the wake of Saturday’s deadly stadium explosion.
Taliban Responds To Calls For Peace By Women In Helmand
The Taliban has demanded a ceasefire on the part of the Afghan government and the complete withdrawal of foreign forces from Helmand’s Shorabak base and Kandahar Airport as a precondition for responding to peace calls by women in the southern province.
In a rare move, dozens of women from Helmand joined a peace convoy Tuesday by setting up a sit-in camp alongside the men’s camp at the stadium in the provincial capital Lashkargah City.
It was at this stadium that a deadly car bomb was detonated over the weekend, while people were leaving a wrestling match.
The sit-in protest was launched on Monday after the Ayub Khan Stadium attack, which killed 16 people and wounded 50 others.
The women activists said on Tuesday their “peace convoy” would visit a Taliban stronghold on Thursday to carry a message of peace to the group.
Meanwhile, organizers of the peace rally have said that they will share the demands made by the Taliban with local officials.
In an audio message sent to the media, the group’s spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said the Taliban leadership will respond to the organizers of the peace rally in Helmand if foreign forces are pulled out of Helmand’s Shorabak base and Kandahar Airport.
“We call on both sides to end the war, we want peace, we heard that the government has launched fresh operations, our representatives are engaging in talks with the government and want to know what the government has to say to them, is the government willing to surrender to peace,” said one protestor Qais Hashimi.
“Our negotiation is going on with the security administration of Helmand including the government officials so that we can reach a consensus about peace,” said a resident of Helmand Sifatullah Sarwan.
Ahmadi once again called the Afghan government a puppet, but gave no indication the insurgent group was ready to enter into talks with the government in Kabul.
But, a number of protestors in Helmand welcomed the move by the Taliban.
“They must seal peace for the sake of God and Islam, the war must end, we gathered here for the same goal,” a female protestor Khial Bibi said.
“We call on the Taliban to make peace for the sake of Allah,” another protestor Bacha Gulah said.
Another female protestor Bibi Noorian meanwhile said: “Afghanistan is full of widows and orphans, we have that peace come to our country.”
Rally organizers also called on the Afghan government to cooperate with protestors.
The movement is the first of its kind by women in Helmand for peace.
On Monday, the peace convoy drove through the city of Lashkargah, brandishing posters carrying messages of peace.