Afghans, former insurgents renew calls for peace
KABUL -- On the heels of a fresh wave of Taliban attacks and crimes against Afghans, Afghan civilians and former insurgents are renewing calls for peace.
"War doesn't bring anything but destruction and the slaughter of innocents," Fakoor Sarwari, a tribal elder in Herat Province, told Salaam Times. "It has been more than a decade that the Taliban have been fighting, but they have no achievements."
"This fight has made everybody tired, Afghans as well as the Taliban," he said. "It's time to end the war and choose a peaceful life."
"God in his holy book has explicitly stated that peace is prosperity and success," Sarwari said. "If the Taliban choose peace, it means they accept the words of God."
"Afghans can achieve prosperity only through ensuring peace and security, and those Taliban who join the peace process and lay down their arms not only help themselves but bring Afghanistan towards a bright future," Milad, 26, a Kabul resident, told Salaam Times.
"If anti-government insurgents join the peace process, they will regain the dignity and the position they had before fighting as terrorists," he said, adding that "they can continue living like other Afghans."
Afghan troops, bolstered by an influx of military equipment and international support, also hope "that the insurgents will realise that they have to say yes to the peace process, or else the highly spirited Afghan ground and air forces will destroy them," Gen. Mohammad Radmanesh, deputy spokesman for the Defence Ministry, told Salaam Times in October.
Militants surrender, repent
Former Taliban and "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) militants who have recently joined the peace process say they were misled by foreign commanders and local recruiters.
They say they now realise the extortion, murder, theft and mass displacement committed by insurgents are un-Islamic and against the interests of Afghanistan.
Former ISIS member Abdulhakim joined the peace process on October 16 in Jawzjan Province.
"I, along with four other ISIS fighters, used to work in Qush Tepa District under the command of our general commander, Qari Hekmat," he told Salaam Times. "But we now regret oppressing our own people."
"We joined the peace process because our fighters always harassed the public. They murdered the innocent, destroyed schools, killed tribal elders and kidnapped residents of Darzab and Qush Tepa districts for ransom," Abdulhakim said.
Awaz, a former Taliban leader in Jawzjan Province, surrendered to local officials on October 1 along with four other members under his command. He said he had learned the errors of his ways.
"When I first joined the Taliban, I thought that they really were implementing Islamic law," he told Salaam Times in October. "However, with each passing day, I, as well as those under my command, further understood the truth."
"We realised that we were deceived and that our actions were contrary to our religion," he said.
"Moreover, [we realised that] all activities that we as well as other Taliban militants were committing in Jawzjan and some areas of Sar-e-Pul Province were detrimental to our people and our country," said Awaz.