A group of Afghan cultural figures and activists gathered in Kabul on Friday to award the city the title of "City of Peace," in an effort to encourage the continued pursuit of peace and harmony after fourteen years of war and division.
The event came amidst an admixture of hope and concern regarding the fledgling peace negotiations process between the Afghan government and Taliban leaders. Although the first round of talks earlier in July was a source of optimism, the recent death of the Taliban's supreme leader Mullah Omar and the subsequent postponement of a second round of talks have raised questions about the future of the process.
Participants of the gathering on Friday called on the Afghan government and its armed opponents to pursue sustainable efforts and firm steps toward restoring peace and stability to Afghanistan. They emphasized that the Afghan people have faced the brunt of violence and tragedy in the war, and that Afghans deserve a brighter future.
"We established this foundation to shift people's attention toward their city and toward peace," Khidmatguzaran-e-Kabul Foundation head Mohammad Amin Farhang said. "It is the responsibility of every citizen to raise his voice for peace."
"My brothers and sisters let's stand against those who by waging war in the country have made millions of dollars and prevent the killing of the people by them," civil society activist Mahbooba Seraj said.
The gathering was attended by the people from various walks of life, including many everyday residents of the capital - men, women and children.
"The process that has been started under the name of peace shouldn't be dealt with as it was in the past, and this time, the national unity government and the Taliban must seriously negotiate for peace," one Kabul resident named Shekiba told TOLOnews.
Many were hopeful that their new spirit of peace and the belief that it may be within reach will spread throughout the country. "This initiative that we have started today in Kabul will be extended nationwide," a participant named Rodit Ringh said. "Everyone has raised their voice for peace."