On July 28, Tuesday, in a move which has revived hopes for intra-Afghan talks, the Taliban announced a three-day ceasefire on the occasion of Eid starting on Friday. The group asked its forces to not attack government installations or to enter government-controlled areas during this period.
The move has been welcomed by the Afghan government. Government spokesperson Sadiq Sediqqi said, “The ceasefire announcement is a key step, but the people of Afghanistan want an enduring ceasefire and the start of direct peace talks between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban,” Tolo News reported.
Despite several ceasefire announcements in the past one year, there have been no direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. After signing a treaty with the US in February, in which intra-Afghan talks were the central point, the Taliban demanded the release of its fighters imprisoned in government jails as a “confidence building” measure before the talks.
The government has released more than 5,400 Taliban prisoners so far. President Ashraf Ghani has announced that the talks between the Taliban and government will begin next week.
The Taliban moved into the remote areas of Afghanistan post the US-led NATO invasion in 2001, and has continuously waged war since then despite the presence of thousands of NATO troops in the country. After almost two decades, it still controls a substantial part of the country and has refused to recognize the government in Kabul. Even after the US-Taliban agreement which led the US to withdraw its troops, Taliban has not ceased its attacks though it agreed for talks with the Ashraf Ghani government. According to president Ghani, since February 29, more than 3,500 Afghan forces and over 750 civilians have died in such attacks. A large number of civilians also die in the crossfire in Taliban-controlled areas, who are often not officially counted among the dead.