Security

Afghan families split by war see hopes for peace after years of turmoil

By Hedayatullah

Muhammad Sarfaraz, a father in Badakhshan Province, Afghanistan, whose two sons are fighting each other -- one in the National Army and another in the Taliban -- calls on the Taliban and the Afghan government to sit together and find a solution for the war that has split his family apart. [Abdul Baseer]

KUNDUZ -- For the past six years, Muhammad Sarfaraz has dreamed of an end to the conflict in Afghanistan so that his two sons might be able to find peace between them.

One son serves in the government security forces, and the other is a fighter with the Taliban.

Now that a peace deal was signed between the United States and the militant group last month, Sarfaraz is optimistic that a rapprochement between his sons is finally possible.

"I have six children. One of my children has been serving as a soldier in the ranks of the National Army in Helmand Province, and another has been fighting alongside the Taliban," Sarfaraz told Abdul Baseer, a local reporter with Amu Radio in Badakhshan Province.

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Muhammad Sarfaraz, 57, is shown February 28 in Olya village of Faizabad city, Badakhshan Province. [Abdul Baseer]

"My son serving in the military can't go to see him, and my Talib son can't come home," said Sarfaraz, who resides in Olya village of Faizabad city, Badakhshan Province.

"We are tired of war, and we want peace to come so that my children can return home and hug each other," the 57-year-old father added.

"I have been through tough days for the past six years trying to bring my son back from the Taliban, but my efforts didn't succeed," he said. "My son who is with the Taliban has threatened my soldier son and other members of my family with death several times."

Sarfaraz looks forward to a day when his children are no longer enemies with each other and when they can embrace each other as brothers once again.

Pain of families

Other Afghan families recounted similar painful experiences, and expressed that they are looking forward to a permanent peace in the country.

"I haven't seen my husband's brother and his wife for six years," said Sabera, 30, whose husband, Faizullah, serves with government forces. "I hope I can see them in person when peace comes."

"We're very tired of war. We all have to live together, and the war and bloodshed must end," she said.

"I lost my two brothers, one nephew, one aunt and nearly 10 other relatives in clashes between the Taliban and government," said Maulawi Safiullah, a resident of Bashan village in Warduj District.

Safiullah said he has lost a total of 22 family members and relatives in the past year amid Taliban violence in the district.

"We are tired of war, and we want a permanent peace," he said. "The Taliban should not continue to hurt people, and they ought to renounce violence by using this opportunity for peace."

Hopefulness for peace

While a peace agreement now is in place between the Taliban and the United States, the militant group has continued to mount attacks on Afghan forces, casting doubt over peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban that were scheduled -- but did not -- start on March 10.

The United States has vowed it will continue to support Afghan forces if the Taliban attack them.

Despite the Taliban's continuing violence, hopes for an end to the war have increased after the peace agreement's signing, assert a number of civil society activists in Badakhshan Province.

Dozens of gatherings to support the peace process have taken place in Badakhshan, said Muhammad Hussain Alemi, a civil society activist in the province.

"Religious scholars, civil society activists, tribal elders, women and youth participated in these gatherings in Faizabad city and in a number of Badakhshan districts, and with one voice they declared their support for the peace process and for a reduction in violence," he said.

The signing of the peace agreement has made Afghans hopeful for an end to the war and chaos in the country, said Abdullah Naji Nazari, a member of the Badakhshan provincial council.

"We have instances in most of the provinces, including Badakhshan, indicating that members of the same family fight with each other as they serve on opposing sides," said Naji.

"We call on the international community to support the Afghan government in putting an end to the war and bringing peace to Afghanistan, as this will protect the public from harm, poverty, misery and insecurities," he said.

War and unrest have turned even the closest relatives against each other, said Naji, adding that he is hopeful that the peace talks will put an end to such hostilities.

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This Afghan massacre should end as soon as possible. In this country, Afghan humans are killed. Both the Taliban and the soldiers are the children of this country. There are many families that some of their sons are serving in the army while others are fighting in the ranks of the Taliban. So the forty-year-old war has begun by neighboring countries, especially Pakistan and Iran to kill Afghans. Afghans should become clever and put an end to this devastating and bloodthirsty war.

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People have really been facing with various problems due to the forty years of war. Many people have left their homes and residences due to the war and are leading a deplorable life in other places. The international community must bring peace to this country as soon as possible. War is enough. People want peace.

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