News Analysis |
Encouraged with the jubilations between Taliban and government forces which the cease-fire during Eid ul Fitr brought, the Afghan government has announced a conditional ceasefire yet again during the Eid ul Adha holidays. “The conditional ceasefire will start tomorrow and it will continue as long as the Taliban preserves and respects it,” Ghani said in a ceremony celebrating 99 years of independence from British rule. “We call on the leadership of the Taliban to welcome the wishes of Afghans for a long-lasting and real peace,” he added.
Reuters quoted a senior official of the Afghan government saying that the government plans to extend the cease-fire this time until Nov 21, which the 12th of Rabi ul Awal, the birthday of Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W). As per Taliban sources, the Shura has provisionally agreed for a ceasefire during Eid days but it is yet to be endorsed by the Chief Haibatullah Akhunzada. The slack in the fighting is only for the Taliban and not for the ISIS which has recently carried out a ferocious attack in tuition center in Kabul where 48 Shia Muslims were killed.
By simply allowing a long span cease-fire, the government is actually weakening its position and on the other hand, the Taliban are not categorically denying to accept the legitimacy of the Afghan government.
The ruthless organization is contested by Government forces and Taliban both. A Taliban source revealed that the group is planning to release prisoners in bulk during the Eid ceasefire. The cease-fire during the Eid ul Fitr saw the public appearance of Afghan Taliban and security forces both embracing each other. It was hailed and supported by the U.S government itself which saw the breakthrough after 17 years of war as a silver lining to end the Afghan turmoil.
The promising response led the government to believe in extending the ceasefire but the Taliban refused the offer and announced they will start their activities as soon as the Eid is over. U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has welcomed the initiative of the Afghan government saying that the U.S government backs every effort which will lead to the sustainable peace in Afghanistan. “The United States welcomes the announcement by the Afghan government of a ceasefire conditioned on Taliban participation,” Pompeo said in a statement.
“This plan responds to the clear and continued call of the Afghan people for peace. “He said Washington was ready to back direct negotiations between the government and militant movement. “There are no obstacles to talks. It is time for peace,” Pompeo said. Though this time around Taliban are also planning to release 100 of prisoners but a 3 month long ceasefire which the government aims to achieve seems hard to be validated by the other side. It could have been a possibility had there been active head-to-head dialogue process going on between government and the Taliban but instead, they have been carrying out backchannel peace talks with the U.S state department in Qatar.
The slack in the fighting is only for the Taliban and not for the ISIS which has recently carried out a ferocious attack in tuition center in Kabul where 48 Shia Muslims were killed.
Increasing their foothold in Afghanistan by means of capturing more cities and government held posts provides them leverage and high stake at the conference table with the Americans. Just recently, a massive Taliban onslaught was repulsed after a 5 day battle by the Afghan army with the help of the U.S army contingents which saw the death of 150 soldiers and about 95 civilians in Ghazni. Taliban contest the writ of the Afghan government in more than 40% of the country. Since the U.S wrapped up its mission in 2014, they have been steadily gaining the moment inside the country.
By simply allowing a long span cease-fire, the government is actually weakening its position and on the other hand, the Taliban are not categorically denying to accept the legitimacy of the Afghan government. For years the U.S government pushed for the direct talks between the government and Taliban but due to the stubbornness of the latter, it had to finally yield and a dialogue process was started with the former Taliban members in Qatar. The long-term impact of cease-fire only stands a chance if there is an active effort on part of both sides, the Taliban and the Afghan government, to engage in a meaningful dialogue.