JALALABAD -- More than 100 Afghans, including religious scholars, women and tribal elders, gathered on August 22 in Jalalabad to call on the Taliban to negotiate in good faith in ongoing peace talks.
"The blood of millions of Afghans has been shed in this country during the past 40 years," religious scholar Mawlawi Sheraz Khan Azimi told participants at the gathering.
"Now as the United States wants to solve the issue of Afghanistan's war, the Taliban should also show their willingness for ending the war," he said.
"For a few months now Afghans have wished for peace, and hopefully it will happen," he said. "Now, hopes have increased greatly."
"If the Taliban were to show a little seriousness on the issue of peace like the United States, and if intra-Afghan negotiations begin with peace being made, these will be good days for Afghanistan," Azimi said.
"Sacrifices need to be made to reach the goal of peace, and peace is not possible if anyone is using force," Sayed Rahman Momand, a tribal elder, said at the gathering.
Afghan society has space for everyone to thrive, he said.
"They will come, and like brothers, we will live together and stand together against those who harbour ill intentions toward our country." Momand said. "We will build this land together."
Women for peace
Woman at the gathering also voiced their support for the peace process.
"We want the peace made by the government and America with the Taliban to not result in women being prisoners in their houses again," Gulalai Shabnam, a civil society activist in Nangarhar, said at the rally. "We should be given the right of education, work and freedom of speech, not living like prisoners at home."
"We know now what life is. We have become educated, and we have seen the outside world, so we want the achievements of the past 18 years not to be ignored and for them to continue," Shabnam added.
"If peace with the Taliban means we return to the previous" ways of the Taliban rule, "then we do not want that kind of peace," Sajida, another participant of the gathering, told reporters.