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    A general view of a neighborhood during the night in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Feb, 13, 2011

    Done With 17 Years of US ‘Help’: Homegrown Afghan Peace Movement Takes Root

    © AP Photo / Dar Yasin
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    A US-led coalition in Afghanistan finished its combat mission in December 2014, marking the formal end of the longest war in American history.

    Since then, US troops have remained in the country acting in a supervisory role, training Afghan soldiers and offering military assistance when requested. 

    New efforts for peace in the nation comes in the wake of clashes between the US-supported Afghan security forces and members of the Taliban radical group in the Qara Bagh district of the country's east-central Ghazni province on Friday, killing at least 120.

    An Afghan people's peace movement, has sprung up in the country, decrying almost two decades of war at the hands of Washington and it's appointed supervisors.
    Abdul Malik Hamdard, a computer teacher, along with 50 other peace activists, described to the Washington Post spending three days walking barefoot along a highway from Kabul, the country's capital, as a form of protest and a means to draw attention to ongoing killings.

    "War kills Afghan people every day," Hamdard said, adding, "we will walk from Kabul to Mazar for peace," referring to Mazar-e Sharif, a city 200 miles north of Kabul, cited by the Washington Post.
    The peace marchers formed their group in the southern Afghanistan province of Helmand after a bombing March. In the beginning, the group organized peaceful protests in local Helmand.

    In May and June, eight members of the group expanded their call to action by walking over 300 miles to the country's capital in an attempt to persuade the US-supported government to end its war with the Taliban. They gained members along the way, garnering an additional 100 marchers by the time they reached their destination.

    In Kabul, the activists set up tents outside various embassies, including that of Pakistan and the US. They met with diplomats, as well as with Afghan officials, including Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, urging an end to the 17-year war. 

    Those meetings with officials were futile, and the activists set out again, with more than half walking barefoot.

    "I told [diplomats and government officials] that Afghans have lost trust in you entirely. You only made promises, in 17 years. We have not seen practical steps towards peace," Mohammad Iqbal Khaybar, the 27-year-old leader of the movement, told the Washington Post.

    "Afghanistan is a good place without war. War is ugly," Mohammad Seraj, 55, said. "We want peace at any cost."

    Following the lead of the Helmand peace movement, other similar groups have emerged in other areas of the country, staging rallies and sit-ins. While Ghani has commended activist efforts, Taliban officials have referred to their efforts as conspiracies.

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    Taliban, march, peace, activists, Kabul, Afghanistan
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