On a clear, sunny day in Kabul a strange thing happened that could be seen from miles around, if people happened to look up. A man jumped from a helicopter and pulled his bright red parachute, expertly flipping and finally gliding into Ghazi football stadium. The man was Iraqi peace advocate Captain Fareed A. Lafta, performing a Peace Jump to bring hope and recognize that Afghanistan is on the road to peace.
The 31-year-old Iraqi skydiver jumped from a helicopter at 5610 feet, freefalling for 17 seconds and pulling his parachute at 3000 feet. As he neared the crowd in Ghazi Stadium, Lafta performed three flips before gliding smoothly onto the same football field used during Taliban rule for executions at half-time. This was the first civilian skydive over Kabul since the end of flghting in the city.
"This is symbolic. I want to give hope to Afghans and especially the younger generation to strive for something better," said Lafta, shortly after the jump.
Lafta was also presented with a Golden Dove of Peace by Skateistan's Executive Director Oliver Percovich, who had received it previously from the German Foreign Ministry in 2009. The life-sized Golden Dove is one of 30 created by German artist Richard Hillinger for the 60th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Each dove represents one of the 30 articles in the declaration. In 2009, all of these doves were "released" as a symbol of peace, to be passed around the world from person to person, from institute to institute. Past recipients include the Dalai Lama, heads of state and Nobel Prize winners.
Lafta is a professional skydiver, qualified astronaut, scuba diving instuctor and holds world records for the most skydives in one day and for being the first to ever skydive over Mount Everest. He did one previous Peace Jump over his birthplace, Baghdad, Iraq, in 2009. The Kabul Peace Jump was coordinated by the Afghan National Olympic Committe (ANOC), Skateistan and the Ministry of Defense.