Security

Intra-Afghan peace talks gain momentum with Eid ul Adha ceasefire

Salaam Times

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In this photo taken on June 17, 2018, Taliban militants and residents stand on an armoured Humvee vehicle of the Afghan National Army (ANA) as they celebrate ceasefire on the third day of Eid in Maiwand District, Kandahar Province. [JAVED TANVEER / AFP]

KABUL -- President Ashraf Ghani said Tuesday (July 28) that "direct negotiations with the Taliban" would start within one week, pending a comprehensive ceasefire during the upcoming Eid ul Adha holiday.

"To demonstrate the government's commitment to peace, the Islamic Republic will soon complete the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners," Ghani told senior officials at the Presidential Palace (ARG).

"With this action, we look forward to the start of direct negotiations with the Taliban in a week's time," he said, speaking in English.

"We call on the Taliban to join us at the negotiating table and to concluding promptly there a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire," Ghani said, according to the official ARG Twitter account. "Commitment to a ceasefire during the coming Eid will be an indication of things to come."

The same day, the Taliban issued a statement in Dari saying they ordered their fighters to observe a three-day ceasefire during Eid ul Adha, which begins Friday (July 31).

"All the mujahedeen [Taliban fighters]... are ordered to refrain from carrying out any operation against the enemy during the three days and nights of Eid ul Adha," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement.

"Of course, if there is any attack on you from the other side, respond strongly," the statement said.

The Taliban banned its members from entering areas under Afghan government control and vice versa, presumably to prevent commingling and celebration among Taliban fighters, civilians and security forces, as was seen during the Eid ul Fitr ceasefire in June 2018.

Having had a taste of normal life, many fighters refused to return to the battlefield after that ceasefire and the militants lost credibility among the Afghan people.

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I hope that a permanent peace will come in Afghanistan after Eid-al-Adha.

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The people of Afghanistan want a permanent ceasefire, and they want the start of direct peace negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban, but we welcome Taliban’s move for declaring a ceasefire during Eid-al-Adha.

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I think the Eid-ul-Adha ceasefire is a good opportunity for both sides to prepare for declaring a permanent ceasefire, and later after the permanent ceasefire, they should begin intra-Afghan negotiations. There is no more excuse for Taliban to fight because all their five thousand prisoners were released, and their agreement with Americans was reached successfully, so now it is time for them to sit together with Afghan politicians and reach to an understanding.

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I hope this Eid al-Adha ceasefire will lead to a permanent ceasefire and peace in the country. By God, people are very much tired of war and insecurity. Afghans are waiting anxiously for the beginning of intra-Afghan talks. If peace and talks fail, believe me that millions of people will migrate to other countries, because they will lose hope for peace in this country. Those who have money may leave the country, but those who are destitute and poor are forced to stay in the country and live a miserable life. I ask all my honorable people to pray in their Eid prayers for peace in the country.

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A three-day Eid ceasefire must be extended to a permanent ceasefire so that the door to intra-Afghan peace talks is opened. Otherwise, this three-day old ceasefire has no benefit, because in the past Eids, we saw that ceasefire was broken by Taliban on the fourth day of the Eid, and they attacked the bases of the army and police, and as a result martyred dozens of them.

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There is no pretext of war left for Taliban now, as the Afghan government is completing the release of 5000 prisoners. Taliban should not make people concerned anymore. The group should be ready to declaring a permanent ceasefire and intra-Afghan talks so that a permanent peace comes in our beloved country.

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