Afghan President Ashraf Ghani might offer the Taliban militant group another ceasefire during next month’s Eid holiday, a government spokesman says, after the Afghan leader reached a truce with Taliban insurgents last month.
“There is the possibility that a ceasefire may be announced over Eid al-Qurban,” said Ghani's main spokesman Haroon Chakansuri at a news conference in capital Kabul on Saturday, referring to Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice), an important festival on the Islamic calendar, which falls on August 22 this year.
He declined to comment further but said that more details would be announced later.
On June 9, Taliban announced in a statement that it had agreed to a week-long truce deal proposed by the Afghan government, saying that foreign forces would be excluded from the ceasefire and operations would resume against them.
Taliban militants themselves, however, announced a three-day truce of their own starting on June 15, saying on June 17 that they would not extend it, a day after Ghani announced the extension of the week-long period of truce with the militant group until an unspecified time. The three-day ceasefire was held on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr Muslim holidays.
The truce, which saw Taliban fighters on the streets of Kabul and other Afghan cities taking selfies with police and government troopers, raised visions of longer-lasting peace between the two sides.
However, after announcing their refusal to extend the truce on June 17, Taliban militants attacked security forces in numerous districts of eastern and southern Afghanistan.
The Taliban’s five-year rule over at least three quarters of Afghanistan came to an end when the United States and its allies invaded the country on October 7, 2001, as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror.
Back in February, Ghani called on the Taliban to join peace talks “without preconditions.” In return, Ghani said the Taliban would need to recognize the Afghan government and respect the rule of law.
Despite the continued presence of foreign troops across the country, the Taliban have been involved in widespread militancy, killing thousands of civilians as well as Afghan security forces and displacing tens of thousands of people across the country ever since.
The militant group has time and again stressed that it would not enter talks with Kabul until US-led foreign troops left the country. However, the militants have repetitively said they are ready for talks with Washington.
On Tuesday, General John Nicholson, the top commander of US forces in Afghanistan, announced that the US was also ready to initiate direct talks with Taliban in an attempt to end a 17-year-old war in Afghanistan.