BALKH: Soccer athletes in Mazar-e-Sharif city, the capital of northern Balkh province, have said that they are striving to turn sports into a public awareness program, promoting a culture of peace in the country.
Mazar-e-Sharif municipality’s football teams have launched a friendly contest titled ‘Peace and Empathy Cup’ with the squads of the municipality of Aibak city, the capital of Samangan province.
The competitions aim to promote the culture of harmony and support peace negotiations between Afghan representatives and the Taliban in Qatar.
Athletes believe that the war and insecurity in the country have affected every sphere of life, including the sports sector, asking warring parties to firmly cling onto the path of peace because it’s the demand of all Afghans and work honestly for ending the violent conflict in the country.
Athletes in Samangan and Balkh provinces say that if peace was ensured in the country, they would launch sports competitions nationwide.
Mohammad Ibrahim Osmani, director of Physical Training Department in Balkh province, also talked about sportspeople’s role in promoting a culture of peace in society and said sportsmen should also be given a role in the process.
He believed sports had helped bring empathy and solidarity among the people and it should be institutionalized as a means for ending violence as well.
Peace and empathy protect the country from miseries
Mazar-e-Sharif Mayor Abdul Haq Khorami, who took part in the occasion, talked about the consequences of war and said that peace and empathy could help protect Afghanistan from miseries.
“War and violence harmed all the people, including the sportspeople.”
Firuzuddin Tagin, the mayor of Aibak, also held similar views, saying that athletes could play an essential role in spreading public awareness about peace and their efforts should not be ignored in this regard.
Tagin was of the view that conflicts had caused significant psychological damage to the Afghan masses and prevented them from progress in many areas.
Declaring ceasefire, public partnership in the peace process, protection of past gains, supporting the sports sector and ensuring real peace are the athletes’ main demands.
Government listens to public opinions on peace
Shujauddin Shuja, deputy Balkh governor, welcomed the sports program and said that all the people should support the peace process.
He stressed that the government was committed to making practical efforts for peace and stability in the country but the Afghan public should also cooperate in this sphere.
Shuja said that people could share their views and suggestions about peace talks with the government in different ways and methods.
It’s pertinent to mention that sports programs spreading the message of peace have also been conducted in other provinces of the country.
This is while more than a month has passed since the intra-Afghan talks, marred by disputes between the negotiating teams, were launched in Qatar on September 12; however, no significant breakthrough has been made.