KABUL -- Afghans are condemning the Taliban after the militant group on Monday (December 30) denied agreeing to any ceasefire in Afghanistan after reports swirled of a potential deal.
Multiple media reports suggested the group was on the verge of announcing some type of temporary truce.
"All Afghans -- men and women -- are tired of war, and thirsty for peace," said Laila Sakhizada, 27, a resident of Kabul city and a student at a private university.
"Even Taliban fighters and their families are fed up with war and want peace. Now that one party to the conflict strongly intends to put an end to the war and make peace, the Taliban needs to declare a ceasefire," she said. "I am confident that it will pave the way for a sustainable peace."
"Peace talks won't produce any result without a ceasefire," said Sakhizada. "If the Taliban want to stop the bloodshed and killing of innocent civilians, they must declare a ceasefire to achieve a peace settlement."
"History has shown that the war is not a solution. A ceasefire and talks can help us reach a lasting peace," she said.
"We will achieve a real peace when the Taliban declare a ceasefire that stops the war," said Ali Akbar, 23, a resident of Kabul and a shopkeeper in the Khair Khana Maina neighbourhood of Kabul city.
"The Taliban couldn't achieve their goals by perpetrating violence. I want them to agree to a ceasefire and raise their demands at the negotiation table," he said.
A step toward peace
A lack of a ceasefire has halted peace talks in the past, say analysts and lawmakers.
"At the first stage, the Taliban need to declare a ceasefire for building trust as it will facilitate talks with all parties to the conflict," said Sefatullah Safi of Kabul city, a political affairs analyst. "A ceasefire will help strengthen and build on the [peace] talks that have already started."
"The ceasefire benefits all parties to the conflict," said Safi. "It is necessary to reach a ceasefire as it will accelerate the peace talks and help achieve a fruitful result."
"In addition to civilians' demands, there's an apparent logic in declaring a ceasefire before negotiations start," he said. "The 10-month-long peace talks stopped because a ceasefire agreement wasn't reached, and if a ceasefire is not declared, the peace negotiations will once again face a stalemate."
"The lives of dozens of Afghans will be saved if a ceasefire is observed even for a day," said Abdul Sattar Hussaini, who represents Farah Province in the Wolesi Jirga. "If the Taliban are Afghans and if they are the children of this country, they have to agree to a ceasefire."
"Parties to the conflict have laid out logical conditions to achieve peace," said Hussaini. "They want to agree on a ceasefire first, then swap prisoners, and then begin talks and reach a peace settlement."
"If a ceasefire doesn't take place, peace negotiations will be meaningless. A ceasefire also reveals the intention of parties to the conflict toward peace," he said.
"A ceasefire is the beginning of reaching a peace settlement, and it is the only option to put an end to the war and ensure peace," said Daud Kalakani, a former member of the Wolesi Jirga from Kabul.
"The Taliban fought many years -- killing innocent Afghans and themselves seeing heavy casualties. But they couldn't achieve their goals," said Kalakani. "Now is the time for them to agree to a ceasefire and resolve their issues with the government and the United States through a dialogue."
"If a permanent ceasefire doesn't take place, the peace talks will fail, and these negotiations will once again end up without a result," he said.