Members of the Helmand peace convoy which were warmly welcomed in the capital of Wardak province on Saturday have called on government and the Taliban to usher in a long-term ceasefire agreement.
The peace convoy, which is expected to arrive in Kabul later in the week, started their journey 34 days ago in Helmand and have walked across the country, through towns and villages, spreading messages of peace.
Having started out as only eight, their numbers continue to grow as they close in in Kabul.
Members of the peace convoy come from all walks of life, and ages range from 17 to 65. These are laborers, farmers, retired army officers, a polio victim on crutches and many more.
Their whole aim is to spread a message of peace.
The convoy arrived in Maidan Shar city, capital of Maidan Wardak, on Saturday where the activists are expected to spend a few days.
Karim Amini, TOLOnews reporter who is currently in Wardak says that with the “arrival of the peace convoy a large number of the people embraced the convoy and warmly welcomed them.”
“The people hugged them,” Amini said, adding that “I saw a 27-year-old man named Mohammad Iaqbal Khaibar who has been leading the peace convoy for over a month.”
“He is one of eleven brothers at home in Lashkargah city of Helmand province and told me that he had not lost any of his family members in the war between Taliban and government forces, but the bloodshed has caused him to launch this movement,” Amini added.
“This is the first experience in Afghanistan and we had to cross dangerous areas that are always witnesses of war between both sides and we wanted to carry the message that people are not scared and will come close to them and will go anywhere,” Khaibar told Amini.
Khaibar and his fellow marchers said they hope their demands will be accepted by both government and Taliban.
“We believe both sides will accept the demand for a ceasefire and will also accept our other demands,” he said.
The convoy has traveled through battle-weary Kandahar, Zabul and Ghazni provinces and they have already covered about 500km.
“I am calling on all tribal elders, whether they are Tajik, Uzbek or any other brothers, that live in Afghanistan to raise their voice,” a tribal elder in Wardak, Wali Amerkhil said after meeting the peace convoy.
Nasibullah, a resident of Wardak said that “this is the voice of every Afghan. This is the voice of a Hazara, Tajik, Uzbek and all Afghans who are tried and affected by the war. All want peace.”