Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, July 20th, 2019

Government’s Unilateral Truce Ends Amid Heavy Clashes

President Ashraf Ghani has announced a formal end to the government’s ceasefire with the Taliban but called on the Taliban militants to agree to full peace talks following a three-day truce during this month’s Eid holiday.“It is now the Taliban’s decision, whether they want to keep killing or join the peace process,” Ghani told a news conference where he repeated an appeal for comprehensive peace talks.He had ordered government forces to suspend offensive operations for 10 days after the Eid truce on June 15-17, which saw unarmed Taliban fighters mingling with soldiers, police and civilians on the streets of Kabul and elsewhere. The truces did not extend to the Daesh terrorist group, which has a relatively small but potent presence in Afghanistan, and launched several deadly attacks on ceasefire revelers during Eid al-Fitr.
Ghani said the ceasefire, which lasted 18 days after it was extended once and overlapped with the Taliban’s unilateral three-day truce at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, had been “98 percent successful”. The three days of no fighting were unprecedented in the nearly 17-year conflict and triggered jubilant scenes across the war-torn country. It saw unarmed Taliban militants mingling with government troops, police and civilians on the streets of Kabul and elsewhere. Ghani said the ceasefire had shown that the majority of the insurgents wanted peace and it was the “Taliban’s turn to give a positive response”. “I am ready to extend the ceasefire anytime when the Taliban are ready,” he said at the press conference. 
The presidentadded, Afghanistan’s domestic issues have three dimensions, including government, Taliban, and the nation.He said the nation demands peace and an end to the conflict and the government has positively responded to the demands, emphasizing it is the time that the Taliban should also respond positively.President Ghani said the Taliban group is facing the nation, religious scholars of the country as well as Indonesia, Pakistan, Saudi Imams and the clerics of the Islamic world.He said the demands for peace come from the nation, religious scholars, and women. The Uelmas present the holy Koran and the nation present their children, and it is the time that Taliban should decide whether they will kill the nation or respond positively to their demands.
While regional neighbors, international partners, religious scholars and Afghan civil movements had all called for peace, the Taliban have already rejected talks and fierce fighting has been underway in many parts of Afghanistan ever since the end of Eid. Ignoring the peace movements, Ulelma Fatwa and people’s demand for peace, they have martyredDozens of Afghan security forces members throughout the country. This shows that their commitment in Islam and their national interest is less strongrather than the commitment they havewith their steering supporters.
Simultaneously, the presidentinformed of an agreement with Pakistan – in writing – on rooting out terrorism. Addressing an event in Kabul, the president said achievements had been made with Pakistan on finding a solution to the Taliban problem in Afghanistan.“The issue of Taliban should be solved in our relations with Pakistan. Some things have been done in this respect and some things are still needed to be done. It has been agreed on paper for the first time. The Afghanistan-Pakistan negotiations framework is now on paper. Now, serious actions are required,” he said. He said there have been improvements in terms of uprooting terrorism. Ghani did not, however, give details on exactly what the new agreement entails.
Meanwhile, a peace convoy just has arrived in Kabul from Kunar province calling Afghans to raise their voice against long term war in the country. This is the second peace convoy who have arrived in Kabul this month, after the Helmand group’s arrival 13 days ago.The Kunar activists, who started their walk to Kabul on Monday, are currently in Kabul’s Chaman-e-Hozoori area.  As quoted form members of the convoy said they walked to Kabul in support of peace efforts that were recently launched around the country.  The peace activists urged Kabul residents to join them and raise their voices against the war.  “In the past four decades, people suffered a lot. Now due to war we are a backward nation,” Mufti Mohammad Bilal, a religious scholar and a member of the convoy said.
These indicate that Afghans are extremely tired and angry due to endless war and rising numbers of suicide bombings and attacks, especially in recent years.  The frequent tragedies and death bodies which are usually broadcasted through media can badly affect over the psychology of the people, especially the students, teachers and economic workers are severely demotivated throughout the country. When any event occurs the residents are largely following the news through T.V or their hand set mobile while the children, teenagers, elders, women, girls and all witness insecurity and painful events which resulted to live in fear of the next attack. According to a report, there are 600,000 widows and many more orphans who lost their caretakers as a result of continuous war.
Therefore, it is highly expected from all warring sides not to pour cold water on hopes of Afghan peopleandseek their interests in peace, not war; especially Taliban are highly expected to respect the Ulema consensus and peoples demand for the sake of their own nation. Thus,International partners are also expected to act upon the strategic agreements and be honest in seeking peace if they really want to be friends with Afghan people. Finally, the Afghan government is expected to realizethat reconciliation with terrorist groups should be handled from the position of strength, and not from the position of appeasement and weakness. In addition to being active in diplomatic approaches, we must prove our success in the battle field, as well.