Father-son duo pedals for peace from Europe to US
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): Carrying the message that “Afghans are tired of war and want peace”, a father and son from Nangarhar province have pedaled their way to the United States through a dozen European nations over eight months.
“Afghans are tired of war. We want peace. We want guns to be replaced by pens and papers so that our younger generation read and write, establish industry and revive our agriculture,” remarked Nadir Shah Nangarhari.
The 48-year-old told Pajhwok Afghan News in an exclusive interview that after pedaling through 13 European countries, beginning from Turkey some eight months ago, they had reached Washington to communicate to the Americans their message that Afghanistan needed peace
After meeting lawmakers, government officials and commoners on the streets of Washington DC and suburbs Nangarhari and his son Feroz Khan, 17,plan to move to New York to meet the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. He then has plans to pedal to Canada.
“Everyone does their part for peace in Afghanistan. Every Afghan feelshis/her responsibility. This shows the commitment of these two gentlemen who have crossed seas to come all the way to the US and are travelling throughout the country to send a message of peace,” Afghan Ambassador Hamdullah Mohib said.
Over the weekend, the duo would be joined on a bike by Special Representatives for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson over the historic Potomac River.
“We hope to spread a message of peace and solidarity with Afghanistan and those who have fled the war for safety,” Nangarharisaid. "Unfortunately, Afghanistan has lost its true identity because of terrorism. People think Afghans are terrorists but they are not involved in terrorism. Afghanistan has a very negative image abroad,” he remarked.
“We would like to promote it with something positive," he said adding that his interaction with the people in both Europe and the United States his helping him spread the message,” he added.
As part of their peace journey, Nangarhari and his son have travelled through Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungry, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom.
“We want peace and unity. People of Afghanistan do not want war,” said Feroz, who has taken a break from school to accompany his father to spread the message of peace to the world.
According to Feroz, every day they bike for six to eight hours and try to cover a distance of nearly 100 km. “The toughest one was in Austria where we had a puncture. We had to spend the night in the open during a downpour,” he recalled.
Travelling through the mountains of Bulgaria during the hot days of summer was also very tough.In 2002, Nangarhari -- a dentist by profession -- had done a similar mission pedaling through 16 countries. In 2003 he was presented with the National Hero of Afghanistan award by the then president.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.