Security

Kunduz residents remain hopeful lasting peace will come to Afghanistan

By Hedayatullah

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Hundreds of Kunduz residents are seen March 2 in Kunduz city as they declare support for the signing of the peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban. [Hedayatullah]

KUNDUZ -- The Taliban's shaky commitment to the peace agreement signed in late February with US negotiators as a step towards intra-Afghan dialogue is not deterring Kunduz residents who remain hopeful for lasting peace.

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar signed the deal February 29 in Doha, Qatar.

But since then, the militants have ramped up violence against Afghan forces and civilians, casting doubt over peace talks between the Kabul government and the Taliban that were due to begin Tuesday (March 10).

A "long and hard" road to peace lies ahead, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told AFP on March 4. "It is a very difficult situation, and the Taliban must honour their commitment."

Hope for peace

Although the road to lasting peace in Afghanistan remains long and daunting, ordinary Afghans still yearn for a country free of the war that most have known their entire lives.

"We have seen hopes rise in Kunduz in the past 10 days because of improved security on the highway, restoration of 24-hour telecom services that were shut for two years, a drop in the [exchange] rate for dollars and a significant reduction in civilian casualties," said Abdul Naser Qayoumi, 60, a tribal elder in Kunduz.

About 500 Kunduz city residents, including religious scholars, tribal elders, civil society activists and youth, gathered on March 2 to declare their support for the peace agreement.

"Residents of this province have seen most of the losses caused by the war and unrest for a decade, and therefore, they support any progress or step toward peace," he said.

'No more war'

"We Afghans have been fed up with war," said Khan Muhammad Momand, a businessman in Kunduz. "We don't want war and the killing of our brothers, and we welcome the agreement signed in Qatar. We call on our politicians to put their differences aside and make efforts for peace."

The Taliban and the United States "should abide by the commitments they made in the agreement and make proper arrangements for intra-Afghan talks to begin", he added.

Maulawi Juma Khan, a religious scholar who attended the event, called on all parties to the conflict "to declare a permanent ceasefire".

"War and bloodshed between brothers are prohibited in Islam," he said. "The Afghan people have been shedding each other's blood for 40 years. Today, they have an opportunity to stop it."

"The Afghan people have been ruined. There should be no more war," he said.

Poverty, unemployment, unrest, the flight of youth from the country and the lack of access to services are just some of the negative consequences of the war, said Ghulam Rasool Asadi, a student in the education department of Kunduz University.

"Uzbek, Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras and other tribes have come together here today to welcome the signing of the peace agreement, as peace is a priority for the Afghan people," he said at the March 2 gathering.

"We witnessed how much security and lives have positively changed in just one week of the reduction in violence," he said. "If there is no peace, there will be no improvement in security, development or rebuilding, and we won't see any growth or progress."

Healing Afghans' wounds

"The Afghan people hate the war, and they keep watching TV and listening to the radio every day to get updates on the progress of the peace talks," said Marzia Rustami, director of the Afghan Women's Network in Kunduz.

"Kunduz women ... call on the intra-Afghan negotiating delegation to do its best to preserve women's achievements of the past 20 years," she said.

Rohullah Amini, a 10th-grade student at Sher Khan High School, also expressed the hopes of the younger generation for a lasting peace.

"If peace comes to Afghanistan today, young Afghans will succeed in every sector," he said.

"In a place where peace is ensured, there will be [construction] projects, jobs and better lives."

Only peace can heal the wounds of war, said Abdul Salaam Saber, one of the disabled participants at the gathering.

"Millions lost their lives and thousands sustained injuries from years of war," he said. "The country needs a permanent peace. We want peace, and the war must stop."

"We say to the Taliban that if they can make peace with others, they have to make peace with the Afghan people and with our government as well because the war has ruined the Afghan people," he added.

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Peace is a marvelous force in the nature and has a permanent and Unbreakable bond to the order of creation, because sustainability, survival and unity of the world are owing to the maintaining of universal order and peace. Also, according to the law of nature, the survival and prosperity of human being requires peace and security in all aspects of life. So peace is one of the basic needs of the Afghan people. Countries of the world must ensure an urgent peace in Afghanistan as soon as possible so that the people of this country should also have a peaceful life like the people of other countries.

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Indeed, the people of Afghanistan are tired of war and want peace all over the country. Undoubtedly, people are the main victims of the insecurities in this somber tragedy. Those Afghans who stayed inside the country suffered the hardest pains or afflictions; a large number of people were killed, wounded and became disabled as result of these wars. And a large number of other people of the country migrated to the neighboring countries due to the adverse condition of war and insecurity and endured a lot of homelessness pain. Some other people were also killed or sank in the seas. Unfortunately, this process started after the coup d’état of 1978 and the Soviet invasion and has continued for four decades up to now. And its negative consequences have been poverty and destruction of political as well as economical systems. So, peace and security are the urgent and vital need for our country and nation.

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Peace is an urgent need of human beings, but unfortunately, in the current situation, the oppressed or doomed classes in the countries of the world, particularly the poor and the downtrodden people of Afghanistan, are squashed under the tyranny, enslavement and anti-human politics of the statesmen. It is never an exaggeration to say that a human being cannot be defined in his materialistic, social and spiritual life without having peace or the fundamental use of peace.

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Undoubtedly, peace demanding and life in peace is the innate needs of humanity, but unfortunately, Afghans are deprived of that. Many years of war and unrest in Afghanistan have caused irreparable damages to the country and its people. Lack of peace and discords among various tribes and groups of Afghanistan on one hand and terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda, Taliban, and ISIS related groups as well as conflicts inside Afghanistan government on the other hand endangered security and peace in this country.

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