Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, May 31st, 2020

Taliban’s surprise ceasefire sparks hopes


Taliban’s surprise ceasefire sparks hopes

The surprise and unprecedented ceasefire between the Afghan government and the Taliban has sparked hopes that the move may open the door for peace talks and eventually end the nearly 17-year conflicts.The Afghan officials including Afghan people widely expressed hopes that the temporary ceasefire may lead to the extension of the period of ceasefire. Some people say that the pleasure of shedding no Afghan blood in Eid might become so irresistible that rest of year is also declared as Afghan Eid. Meanwhile, in three days, the unity of Taliban insurgents will be put to test; If different factions don’t accept the ceasefire, then attacks will continue.
Since 2001, this is the first time that Taliban have agreed to a ceasefire, and follows the unilateral truce announcement by Afghan, foreign supported, government. The Taliban have long insisted on the complete withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan as a precondition for peace talks -- a major sticking point to kick-starting any potential negotiations.  Afghan President Ashraf  Ghani said, “the Taliban move was an opportunity for the militants to realize their violent campaign was not winning them hearts and minds but further alienating the Afghan people from their cause”. In recent years, they have intensely increased their fatal attacks in Afghanistan, particularly Kabul, with the nascent Islamic State group adding to the challenges faced by struggling security forces. The capital becomes the deadliest place in the country for civilians as casualties’ surge.
Ghani’s decision for ceasefire came after a historic meeting of  Ulema issued a fatwa against suicide bombings but it was responded by lethal attacks in which killed 14 people at the entrance to the clerics’ peace gathering tent in Kabul. The clerics also recommended a ceasefire with the Taliban and Ghani endorsed the recommendation. Thus, in February, Ghani had offered recognition of the Taliban as a legitimate political group in a proposed political process that he said could lead to talks to end more than 17 years of war. he proposed a ceasefire and a release of prisoners among options including new elections involving the militants and a constitutional review in a pact with the Taliban to end a conflict that last year alone killed or wounded more than 10,000 civilians.
However, the Taliban did not immediately respond to the president’s offer, and analysts are skeptical, as social media is flooded with Afghans calling on the insurgents to agree. On the other hand, the announcement by the Taliban came hours after Taliban fighters killed 19 Afghan policemen in Kunduz province and also had attacked security outposts in the Zawul district of western Herat province on Friday night, killing 17 troops and wounding several. As per Taliban spokesmen Zabihullah Mujahid, “the top leadership had directed the fighters to refrain from attacking the Afghan security forces for three days, but said foreign forces remained a target.”In addition, it’s reported that Taliban commanders directed to release minor prisoners while those who had committed more serious crimes would be able to meet with their families during the Eid holidays.
It was not exactly clear when the short ceasefire would begin, as Eid starts when the moon is first sighted, but Afghan calendars mark Friday, June 15; it is also probable that Eid falls on Saturday based on the mentioned criteria. 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 Fatwa of the Afghan Ulema which was declared that violence and suicide attacks are not only against Islam but also strictly forbidden in our religion. Anyway, Eid which is the biggest festival in the Muslim calendar hope to bring a permanent peace and happiness in the country.
Many countries and organization welcomed the surprise offer of Taliban which was unprecedented in past 17 years. NATO, United Nation and US officials hoped that the move can lead to a breakthrough.Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also welcomed an Afghan government proposal to announce a ceasefire with the Taliban and expressed hope that intra-Afghan talks would lead to the promotion of stability in Afghanistan. He stresses a secure and stable Afghanistan is essential to regional security and development, emphasizing that the Islamic Republic will spare no effort to promote lasting peace in the war-ravaged country.”The Islamic Republic of Iran is ready and will spare no effort to help establish sustainable peace and fight terrorism in Afghanistan,” Rouhani said in a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on the sidelines of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the Chinese port city of Qingdao on Saturday.
He added that Iran and Afghanistan have a common culture and trade interests and said, “Iran is determined to expand relations with [its] neighbors, particularly Afghanistan, and run a joint venture in various development projects such as transport infrastructure.”He stressed the importance of connecting regional countries, including Central Asian states, to the Persian Gulf, for the development of the entire region, Press-tv reported.
Overall, everyone is tired of war and extremely wishes that the Taliban may respond positively to the demands of the people and clergy in Afghanistan and focus on putting an end to the war in the country. Most of local and international experts strongly believe that there is no military solution to this conflict and that only a political settlement can bring an end to the suffering in Afghanistan. Consequently, everyone really anticipates the warring parts to unlock their wills for reaching peace through negotiation in the war-torn country.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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