Kabul (AsiaNews) – “In this country, the year begins with spring, the season when nature is reborn after the winter torpor. It would be nice if the spring of nature were followed by the spring of society!’ said Fr Giovanni Scalese, parish priest in Kabul, as he welcomed Nawruz, the Persian New Year, which is celebrated in Afghanistan (as well as Iran and Iraq), in close proximity to Easter’s message of hope.
“We would like all our Afghan brothers and sisters to share the grace of this event,” Fr Scalese said. “Christ died for everyone. We can all – Christians and Muslims – benefit from the life that blooms from the death of Jesus! “
Nawruz (new day in Persian) is a 3,000-year tradition that marks the arrival of spring and the start of a new year. Its roots are in the Zoroastrian faith, before the advent of Islam, and it is celebrated by people of different religions. According to the Iranian calendar, today is the first full day of the year 1397.
“Today, a new year starts,” the clergyman noted. “If only 1397 were the beginning of a peace process in Afghanistan.” Indeed, as violence increases, his hope rests with the ongoing Kabul process and President’s Ghani’s peace offer.
“If we consider that only with peace it is possible to take advantage of some juicy opportunities (TAPI gas pipeline; exploitation of natural resources; etc.), which could be more lucrative than the opium criminal business, then we understand that it is profitable to nobody to continue this endless war. Economic interest could succeed where weapons, politics and diplomacy failed.”
TAPI refers to the Trans-Afghan (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) pipeline.
The Afghan government has recently made an offer of unconditional peace to the Taliban, hoping to bring the jihadi group to the negotiating table. For now, the Taliban have not yet given a clear response.
However, in a press release yesterday, the group welcomed the call for peace by Mohammad Ismail, a former jihadi leader, who asked opposition groups to sit at the table of negotiations, if not with the government, at least with Mujahideen leaders, to end the war.
However, after 6,000 days of war (as of 12 March), the Taliban are not the only warrying party. A suicide attack claimed by the Islamic State killed at least 26 people and wounded 18 outside the Kart-e Sakhi Shia mosque in Kabul, where a large crowd had gathered to celebrate Nowruz, which Islamist extremists despise as “unIslamic”.