Afghans march in cities to call for pullout of US troops

Several hundred protesters have marched in three cities in southern and eastern Afghanistan to call for a ceasefire and an end to the US-led war in the country.
The Thursday marches took place in Kandahar, the southern cradle of the Taliban, and in the eastern cities of Khost and Jalalabad.
The participants held placards and chanted slogans such as “No War”, “We want ceasefire” and “We want Peace.”
Bismillah Watandost, a member of the People for Peace Movement, urged the Taliban to respond to a truce offer proposed by the Afghan government last year.
“Afghans want an absolute ceasefire as soon as possible. The government had agreed a one-year ceasefire and the Taliban must accept their demand.”
Haji Farhad, a protester in Jalalabad, said that people of Afghanistan had been fed up with the ongoing war and violence.
“We call on the Taliban to come to the peace talks with the Afghan government and have mercy on the Afghan people. Our men, women, children and widows want peace. We are tired of war.”
In recent months, the war-weary grassroots peace movement in Afghanistan has organized a series of sit-ins and a hunger strike demanding that both the government and the Taliban implement a ceasefire.
In May 2018, the peace marches began when a handful of civilians traveled 700 kilometers from Lashkar Gah in the southern province of Helmand to end their journey in the capital Kabul.
Since then, many others have been organized, including a wheelchair peace march by amputees between the western city of Herat and Kabul.
The developments come as the Kabul government has stepped up efforts to convince the Taliban to end more than 17 years of militancy amid Washington’s failures on the battleground.
The US, too, has been holding talks with the Taliban. The US State Department’s special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, has said that he had held “productive” meetings in Abu Dhabi with Afghan and international partners “to promote intra-Afghan dialogue towards ending the conflict.”