KABUL (Pajhwok): Farida Kochi, who has lost three sons including a four-month-old to war, wants support to go to Qatar and plead with the warring parties for peace.
But Kochi, a former senator, is still making strenuous efforts to stretch her scarf (shawl) before the negotiators for making peace and renouncing the war.
A member of the Meshrano Jirga (upper house of parliament) from 2010-2018, Farida Kochi is a resident of Balkh province. She is currently living in Kabul.
The 50-year-old nomad is acutely aware of the anguish of her compatriots as she has lived in different parts of the country.
She has been in Afghanistan in the past four decades of conflict. A patriot beyond doubt, she has never migrated abroad.
Kochi said the conflict had affected all Afghans, many of whom have lost their loved ones. If asked, every mother would share harrowing tales and yearning for peace, she adds.
Kochi’s excruciating story:
Kochi was silent for a moment and then she broke into tears, saying she, like other Afghan mothers, had lost three sons to the conflict.
She remarked: “The pain of every child child’s death shocked me beyond words. But the death of my four-month-old baby continues to haunt me even today.
“We lived in a desert in Balkh province; we had around 1,200 sheep, 600 goats, 10 camels, cows and other animals. Men loyal to Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum came and took away all our animals.
“They asked me where our men are. I replied they are not available. Then two of Dostum’s men entered our tent, picked my 4-month-old son from the cradle and tore him into two pieces in front of my eyes,” she recalled.
Without elaborating, she said two of her other sons were sent to the mountain for fear of being taken away by the gunmen. But they were also killed in the mountain.
Kochi now has one son who is also her bodyguard and driver. She sees the absence of peace behind all miseries, saying her pain and unhappiness is just a small example of an Afghan’s life.
The war had left so many Afghans like her in a state of mourning, the ex-lawmaker said, lamenting that countless mothers had lost their sons to the “foreign-imposed war” that was still taking a toll on the Afghans.
While wiping away her tears, she told Pajhwok Afghan News: “We have seen it, May Allah never show you this. May Allah bring peace so that the new generation doesn’t experience this bloody war.”
Kochi’s efforts for peace:
Afghan women have long played a key role in ending hostilities in their homeland, she acknowledged. Afghan women had resolved hostilities through the old tradition of mediation and stretching their scarves in front of rival parties.
“I’m a nomad; having traveled to different provinces. Whenever there was a dispute between people and villages, men would approach them 10 to 20 times.
“If the dispute would not go away, then women would gather and stretch their scarves before the parties and implore elderly men for a negotiated solution.”
She recently tried to bring together war-affected women from 34 provinces and to travel to Qatar. Her idea was that the women, whose sons were killed in the war, would underline the need for peace and call for a ceasefire between the warring sides.
Unable to fund the propose trip, she called on some individuals to help bring the women together and make it possible for them to travel to Qatar. However, no one has provided her any assistance so far.
Though her plan did not work, yet she remains ready to do so. She is still working to end the bloody conflict through women stretching their scarves before the parties so that all Afghans are united like brothers.
Regarding some women’s concerns that hard-won achievements of the past two decades could be kost in peace talks, she said: “I have experience; I was head of women’s affairs during the Taliban regime.
“The Taliban never barred women from working, but they do not allow those without headscarves or those who refuse to accept Islam.”
Kochi insisted the Taliban had not come to the negotiating table, but they wanted peace. A handful of people in the government opposed peace. She alleged, asking the Ghani administration not to miss this opportunity.
The former parliamentarian refused to name those who opposed a peaceful settlement, fearing they would create problems for her.
Stretching her scarf, Kochi asked President Ashraf Ghani: “For Allah sake, make reconciliation with the Taliban. Go to the Taliban, and tell those giving you wrong advice to get lost. His (president’s) advisers are giving him flawed suggestions. He has ears, but not eyes.”
Kochi regretted the postponement of the Istanbul summit on advancing peace in Afghanistan, saying people were optimistic about the Turkey talks leading to peace in the country.
Worried over the postponement of the meeting, she noted the war had turned bloody and the security situation was deteriorating with each passing day.
“Everybody thinks I’m going to be killed sooner or later. When my son goes to the bazaar, I get him at least 20 phone calls until he returns,” Kochi continued.
With a Kalashnikov in her hand, Koch said her only surviving son guarded home until midnight and then she did so for the rest of night.
“If the situation persist, there will be so many rebels like Alipur — the commander of illegal armed groups in Behsud (Maidan Wardak) and the government will not be able to control them. Peace must be established to rein in such people,” she stressed.
The restoration of peace and visiting the people of all provinces, especially the Kochis, in peace and happiness has been her dream.
“If I die before the restoration of peace, I will take this wish to the grave,” the former senator commented.