The Afghani government is hopeful that the ceasefire will finally lead to a “political solution to the conflict”.
Afghani Border Police Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The Taliban in Afghanistan announced on Saturday that they plan to adhere to a surprising three-day ceasefire during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr which will begin tomorrow (Thursday) at sundown.
The announcement came two days after the Afghani president announced a week-long ceasefire that he hoped would lead to a “political solution to the conflict.”
Afghani President Ashraf Ghani took to Twitter to “welcome the three days ceasefire announced by the Taliban.”
The announcement, he said, “comes following the bold decision by the Islamic republic of Afghanistan to cease the fight for a period of time,” referring to his June 7 declaration that “the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan announces ceasefire from the 27th of Ramadan until the fifth day of Eid-ul-Fitr following the historic ruling [Fatwa] of the Afghan Ulema.”
We welcome the three days ceasefire announced by the Taliban starting on the first day of Eid. This comes following the bold decision by the Islamic republic of #Afghanistan to cease the fight for a period of time.
— Ashraf Ghani (@ashrafghani) June 9, 2018
The fatwa, he tweeted, “declared that violence and suicide attacks are not only against Islam but also strictly forbidden in our religion” and that “only the state can declare jihad, thereby rendering violent campaign by any group anything but a holy war.” Incidentally, the fatwa also recommended initiating a ceasefire with the Taliban.
We are pleased that the Taliban have accepted our ceasefire declaration for Eid. This is the first break in 23 years and we ask for your support to utilize the window for moving forward with intra-Afghan peace talks.
— Ashraf Ghani (@ashrafghani) June 10, 2018
That being said, both the Taliban and ISIS denounced the fatwa; ISIS dispatched a suicide bomber who struck as the clerics were leaving the historic meeting, killing seven. The Taliban said that the clerics were siding with the occupation, and insisted that its holy war against the foreign forces was warranted.
Indeed, despite their promised ceasefire, the Taliban said that foreign forces would be excluded from the truce, and they insisted that they would still remain alert and defend themselves from anyone who chose to attack them.
“Members of the Taliban should not participate in public gatherings during the Eid festivities,” they said, “because the enemy could target us.”
As per the terms of the Afghani ceasefire, Ghani said that the Afghani army would only respond to “offensive maneuvers” by the Taliban, but would continue actively targeting “Daesh [ISIS] and other foreign backed terrorist organizations.”
Taliban’s announcement of ceasefire with ANSF during Eid & indication to release some captives is encouraging & important step towards prospects for peace.Hope the pleasure of shedding no Afghan blood in Eid becomes so overwhelming that rest of year is also declared as Afghan Eid
— Dr Omar Zakhilwal (@DrOmarZakhilwal) June 9, 2018
Some Afghani officials, however, seem skeptical that the Taliban would adhere to a ceasefire. “The group is not serious in peace talks,” said Abdul Khabir Uchqoon, deputy head of Afghanistan’s high peace council, in a radio interview.
This skepticism may be justified; just hours before the Taliban’s ceasefire declaration, the terror organization attacked security checkpoints in the Herat territory, killing 17 NATO-led troops.
Ghani, for his part, seems optimistic about the truce, and believes that it is “an opportunity for the Taliban to introspect that their violence campaign” is only “further alienating the Afghan people from their cause.”
Dr. Omar Zakhilwal, the Afghani ambassador to Pakistan, said that he hopes that “the pleasure of shedding no Afghan blood in Aid becomes so overwhelming that the rest of year is also declared as Afghan Eid.”