Calls Mount For Ceasefire As Taliban Continues Refusal

Taliban is still insisting on more discussions on foreign forces withdrawal in their talks with US officials in Qatar as the calls for a ceasefire are growing from the Afghan government side, the High Peace Council and the ordinary Afghans.

The Qatar talks were stopped for one day due to the arrival of Ramadhan and will resume on Tuesday.

The High Peace Council, which shoulders peace efforts under the Afghan government, in a statement on Monday called on the Afghan government and the Taliban to announce a ceasefire during Ramadhan in order to provide the ground for confidence-building measures and intra-Afghan dialogue. Efforts are underway for the creation of a commission which will tackle the issue of release of Taliban prisoners, the statement said.

“They (the US and the Taliban) once again discussed those issues which they had failed to reach to a conclusion about them in the five-round of the talks,” said Wahid Muzhda, a political analyst. “The reasons that they did not reach to a settlement about them is that these issues are quite sensitive and complicated, for instance, the issue of troop withdrawal, when the debate is driven towards the troops, then some other issues come ahead which need to be answered that how long it will take to make it possible.”

“The Americans had taken their technical team and they talked with the Taliban. Similarly, when it comes to the issue of the ceasefire, it is an important issue, whether there will be a ceasefire when these forces are withdrawing or no? If there is a ceasefire, would it be with the foreigners or it will also comprise the Afghan government. These are all among the issues which are very complicated and they need to be discussed and this has also prolonged the negotiations,” added Muzhdah.

“Khalilzad was insisting that the Taliban should announce a ceasefire, but it is unacceptable for the Taliban, similar demands were made before also, but this time, they insisted a lot on a ceasefire, but the Taliban insists that first there is a need to clarify the issue of foreign forces withdrawal,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban member.

The Taliban in a statement on Friday, May 3, rejected the call for a ceasefire which was the main demand of the grand council of almost 3,200 Afghan delegates from around the country. The group said “Jihad” will have more “rewards” during Ramadhan.

After a one-day pause in Qatar talks, the US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad will make his second visit to India on Monday for consultations with the Indian officials on the Afghan peace process.

Khalilzad is expected to brief Indian authorities about the progress made in the peace efforts in the past few months, the Times of India reported.

In addition, President Ashraf Ghani in a video message on Ramadhan reiterated his call on the Taliban to respond to the demand of Afghans for peace and reconciliation.

He said Ramadhan is a month of peace and reconciliation.

“I once again call on the Taliban to respect this holy month and address the demand of Afghans for peace and reconciliation which was reflected at the Grand Consultative Jirga for Peace,” Ghani said.

US ambassador to Kabul John Bass and NATO Civilian Representative to Afghanistan Nicolas Kay in their messages on the occasion of Ramadhan said this month provides the opportunity to show generosity and make peace.

“It is a time for hope, peace and charity,” said Bass.

“I do hope that Afghans will enjoy a peaceful Ramadhan and there will be less violence and less killing that we have seen recently. Afghans are yearning for peace and NATO supports this desire for peace,” said Kay.

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