A exchange program between Khost and Kunduz which has financially supported by German Development Service (DED) has created a bond of friendship and understanding between the two provinces. 45 people from different walks of life arrived from Khost to share ideas and experiences about the Afghan peace process with their counterparts in Kunduz.
Intensive discussions and shared activities brought about a sense of unity and reduced prejudices that are common between people from the Pashto speaking Southeast and the Dari-speaking Northeast. Amongst the participants were social and cultural activists such as representatives of civil society, the provincial councils, the Human Rights Commission, the Commission for Peace Building and National Unity, journalists, filmmakers, theatre groups, musicians and soccer players. Many of the guests explained that they were warned by family and friends not to go to Kunduz, as they believed that Pashtuns would be threatened and even killed in the North. But when they came, they saw that
Pashtuns, Usbeks, Tajiks, Hazaras and others live side by side in Kunduz society. On the other hand, many people in Kunduz believed that most people from Khost are Taliban supporters. When they got to know their guests they understood that they shared many ideas and were in fact not different from themselves. These kinds of experiences are central for the promotion of a sense of unity and understanding in Afghanistan. Therefore Mediothek plans to continue these kinds of exchange programs in future. The Peace Caravan will move on.
Here are some highlights of the program:
A delegation of one hundred people from Kunduzawaitedthe visitors from Khust about 30 kilometers South of Kunduz city to give them a warm welcome and assure them that any sense of fear was unfounded. The hosts waited near a field of tulips as a symbol for new beginnings. The guests were then escorted to Kunduz city. In Kunduz they visited a women’s textile factory. This place was chosen to introduce the visitors to some of the
Activities of women in Kunduz.
The second day of the program was reserved for group work. About hundred participants from Khust and Kunduz were divided into eight groups according to their fields of interest: 1.Provincial Council Members discussed their problems and achievements half a year after their founding
2.Journalists discussed the role of media in the Afghan peace process
3.Representatives of civil society discussed the roots of violence in Afghan society
4.Representatives of the Human Rights Commission and the Commission for Peace Building and National Unity discussed about the national reconciliation process
5.Members of the two theatre groups discussed about the situation of theatre in their province.
6.Filmmakers from Khust and Kunduz discussed the potential of Cinema to promote peace and development in Afghanistan.
Members of the two soccer teams discussed the potential of a national league to improve relations between different provinces.
The two music groups played music.
The program was started by a speech of the Governor of Kunduz, Eng. Mohammad Omar. This was followed by an emotional gesture of brotherhood spontaneously enacted by two elders from Khost and Kunduz. Another highlight of the day was a visit to Shirkhan Bandar, a border post to Tajikistan. Looking over to the neighboring country, the participants from Kunduz and Khust assured themselves of their common Afghan identity. Later, they performed the national dance of (Atan) together .
On the third day, the results of the group work were presented in a conference in Kunduz Hotel. In order to involve a larger number of Kunduz people, the program ended with a friendly soccer match between Kunduz and Khust teams. The evening was spent in the desert at the invitation of a nomad tribe from Kandahar.