Kabul – the City of Peace
By Dr. Ali Ahmad
31 July 2015
A group of activists, actors, current and former politicians in Shahr-e Naw Park, in the heart of Kabul gathered on a sunny Friday morning. Teenagers were playing ‘carambole’ (a board game), a popular pass-time. The park is also a meeting point, a cemented mini-football ground, a foodie hangout for those who love ‘Bolani’, a popular Afghan street food and has a well-known cinema attached to its northern side. However, the activists were not there to play the game or eat food. They had gathered around to designate this war-torn capital as the ‘City of Peace’ as a way of reclaiming Kabul despite the ongoing insurgency in the country.
The Kabul Servants Foundation has kicked off this initiative to raise their voice for peace even as the country’s first official peace talks with the insurgents failed after the death of their leader Mullah Omar. The aim of the Foundation is to draw people’s attention to their city, which people in the West only associate with bomb explosions. “It is the responsibility of every citizen to raise his/her voice for peace,” said Amin Farhang, a former politician and the head of the Foundation.
The country has rarely seen a day of peace in the last four decades of its history which have only seen death and violence first due to the Soviet invasion, then the civil war, the takeover by the Taliban in the 90s and most recently, occupation by U.S.-led NATO forces following the horrific 9/11 attacks. The coalition ousted the Taliban in 2001 and installed a new government. This however failed to relieve the country of war. While many Afghans believed in the possibility of a new age of peace after the American invasion, their hopes were shattered as the troops continued to unleash blood and gore.
On Friday, one of the leading participants was Ms. Mahbouba Seraj who spoke about “City of Peace” as a symbolic move to remind Afghan politicians that their primary duty is to honestly work for peace. Recently recognized by Peace Museum Vienna as a ‘Peace Hero’, Ms. Seraj said that peace starts from within oneself and one’s home and then the community. She also expressed her concern over growing violence against women and she said she was ashamed of seeing violence against her fellow Afghan women without being able to stop it. “We should start peace from our home, our community and take the message of peace to Kabul and then to the whole country. Let’s bring peace to this historical city,” she concluded her speech.