Afghan President Ashraf Ghani today offered a ceasefire and a complete end to hostilities between the forces of the National government and the Taliban, citing the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. The ceasefire, if accepted, will stand for three months, and will bring some relief to a country that has witnessed many attacks in the recent past.
Speaking on the occasion of the country’s 99nd Independence Day at the Darul Aman palace in Kabul, President Ghani stated that ceasefire will stand until the Prophet’s birthday, “provided the Taliban reciprocate.” “The conditional ceasefire will continue as long as the Taliban preserve and respect it and we call on the Taliban leadership to respect the Afghan peoples’ wishes for lasting peace,” President Ghani further said.
Although there has been no official acceptance from the Taliban’s side, the militant group that ruled Afghanistan from the mid-90s to their overthrow in 2001 has released a statement suggesting that it will be releasing hundreds of prisoners in lieu of Eid.
The offer for the ceasefire comes after a bloody month of hostilities between the Afghan security forces and the Taliban in which 150 soldiers and over 95 civilians were killed. In fact, the United Nations has reported that over 1,500 civilians have been killed in blasts, suicide attacks and clashes between January and June of this year.
Although allies such as the United States and neighbors such as Pakistan have welcomed the announcement with cries of ‘It’s time for peace,’ many outsiders remain unconvinced as to how long this truce between the Afghan government and Taliban can last.
The present ceasefire is the second offered by the Afghan government this year, with the first offered in June to mark the celebration of Eid ul-Fitr in June. Alas, the three-day truce was soon broken by the Taliban and hostilities have since resumed.