About a year ago, Tahir Khan, then 17, from the southern Afghan province of Helmand, joined a caravan of about 80 countrymen and marched over 700 km to Kabul. Their clarion call was: “End the war in Afghanistan.”
The group of Afghan men traversed, many barefoot, the breadth of the country during a 60-day hike, halting only to rest and sleep. Their labour for peace, in a country torn by decades of war, won them many hearts and headlines. These endeavours also saw some success when the Taliban declared a temporary three-day ceasefire during Id last year. But little has changed for the country since then.
This year, once again, ahead of Id, Mr. Khan joined the same band of men — their mission now dubbed the “People’s Peace Movement” (PPM). On May 30, fasting for Ramzan, and at times barefoot, they walked towards the Taliban-controlled territories in southern Afghanistan to urge the insurgents to agree to another ceasefire, and possibly to an end to the war. “We went to share our pain with them. We wanted to sit and talk to them, and ask why couldn’t we solve this conflict,” Mr. Khan, who was born in the post-Taliban era and is as old as America’s war in his country, told this reporter.
Mr. Khan’s province is among those where the Taliban’s hold is strong. Growing up in such a region, he has not known a life away from death and violence. “The world runs on dreams, but here [in Afghanistan] dreams just die,” Mr. Khan, who also aspires to be a journalist, said. “Because of the war, I haven’t been able to seek higher education, nor are there any qualified teachers and schools around here. The war has stopped me from growing. How good would it be if there was no war and I could study further and be a political journalist,” he wondered.
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