“Afghanicide – the killing of Afghanistan – must be stopped,” says Israir Ahmed Karimizai, a leader of Awakened Youth of Afghanistan, a prominent antiwar group. After seeing the violence grow sharply last year, Mr. Karimizai and a group of friends formed Awakened Youth with the aim of creating a movement that is independent of both the government and the Taliban. In late September the group headed an initiative to observe International Peace Day with speeches, rallies, and a pledge from both the international forces and the Taliban to lay down their arms for one day. When both sides mostly complied, making that day one of the least violent in the country’s recent history, Awakened Youth members and other activists say they were inspired to redouble their efforts.
For Ms. Gilani and other peace activists, this doesn’t mean however that they let the West off lightly, however. “We are against Western policy in Afghanistan,” she says. “They should bury their guns in a grave and focus on diplomacy and economic development.”