‘If peace comes’: Afghans dream of life after war

While Taliban-US talks are fraught with uncertainty, deal marks potentially historic step

‘If peace comes’: Afghans dream of life after war
Afghanistan President

Kabul: With a partial truce underway on Saturday and a deal between the US and the Taliban likely on the horizon, Afghans are daring to dream of the war ending and their country finally opening up.

The “reduction in violence” agreed by the Taliban, the US and the Afghan security forces comes ahead of a possible deal between the insurgents and Washington which would see the US pull thousands of troops out of Afghanistan.

While the move is fraught with uncertainty, it marks a potentially historic step in the country’s more than 18-year-old war.

Afghans have been sharing their hopes for peace on social media, tagging posts with hashtags in Dari and Pashto — Afghanistan’s two main languages — that translate to #ifPeaceComes and #whenThereIsCeasefire.

“In the past 15 years, people have not been able to travel on highways safely. The Taliban stop them, kill them or kidnap them,” Ramin Mazhar, a popular poet who helped spread the hashtags, said.

If the reduction in violence holds, Mazhar said he would go to Nuristan, an inaccessible province in the northeast of the country.

“I want to go to Nuristan, run, laugh, sing, dance, whistle and eat yoghurt,” he said.

“I want to touch its green hills, crazy rivers and blue sky. I want to climb its trees, and know its pigeons.”

Afghanistan was once a popular destination on the “hippie trail” that saw foreigners from across Europe travel to the country by bus en route to India in the 1960s and 1970s.

Tourism was all but destroyed following the Soviet invasion in 1979 that led to over 40 years of continuous fighting and instability.