Fighting in Afghanistan came to a virtual standstill today as all major combatants agreed to halt offensive operations in honor of International Peace Day. UN envoy Kai Eldi described the drop in violence as “remarkable,” with only one attack (the killing of two guards in Ghazni Province) being reported at all.
NATO’s top commander ordered his troops to halt offensives, while an email from the Taliban promised to respect the day as well. Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai also gave his support to the idea earlier in the month during a meeting with actor and Peace One Day ambassador Jude Law.
Afghanistan’s civilian populace, under siege from the enormous increase in violence this year, used the day to reflect on the overall situation. Most seemed to be frustrated by their only peace coming in the form of a single day holiday. Al-Jazeera quotes journalist Borhan Younus as saying “This is a show produced by the UN, a waste of money. Peace is not a slogan to be chanted. It is not a flag to be given to somebody, it is a condition to be created.”
Meanwhile US coalition spokesman Sgt. Joel Peavey, perhaps not fully appreciating the spirit of International Peace Day, used the lull to lobby the Afghan populace for further support of the war against the Taliban. Describing the situation as “crazy,” he went on to add “It’s a great day to show Afghans exactly what peace is like and how their everyday life would be if they just booted out the bad guys.”
The primary benefit to the day, besides the lack of civilian casualties, was that it allowed the World Health Organization to start its planned vaccination of Afghan children against polio after all. Last week the WHO announced that they were canceling the campaign after two doctors were killed in a suicide bombing.