Shehbaz welcomes the ceasefire in Afghanistan

Frederick Owens
June 11, 2018

On Saturday, the Taliban outfit announced a three-day ceasefire with the Afghan government during Eid al-Fitr religious festival holidays.

For the festival, Taliban fighters "are instructed to stop their offensive operations against domestic opposition", the militant group's statement said, referring to Afghan forces.

Security officials said they would suspend operations against the Taliban in line with the ceasefire, but would respond if attacked.

There was no immediate response to the Taliban's statement from the USA military, which has a dual mission to support Afghan troops against the Taliban and, separately, conduct counterterrorism operations against extremists associated with the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

Militants launched two separate assaults in the western province of Herat and the northern province of Kunduz overnight, killing at least 36 soldiers and police, officials said.

This will be a first such project in the war-torn country where China, while trying to expand its influence, has tacitly backed Pakistan, which has been accused by Afghanistan and the United States of backing the Taliban and its most violent attacks in the country destabilising any attempts to restore peace.

President Ghani had also hoped that the Taliban group would observe the ceasefire. "It is much easier than shed blood in the battlefield, kill and spread hatred", Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, Taliban's former ambassador to Pakistan, told VOA. Eid al-Fitr celebrates the end of the holy month of Ramadan and begins June 16.

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"Taliban's announcement of cease-fire with ANSF during Eid & indication to release some captives is encouraging & important step towards prospects for peace", Omar Zakhilwal, Afghanistan's ambassador to Paksitan, wrote on Twitter on June 9.

Mualvi Mir Hassain Shah Naseri, talking on behalf of Ulema Council, said that the council supported the ceasefire announced by the Taliban and the government and wanted lasting peace in the country.

"Members of the Taliban should not participate in public gatherings during the Eid festivities because the enemy could target us", they said in a statement. But it added that if attacked "we will strongly defend [ourselves]".

"It is a good move by the government and Taliban".

This attack, however, was not the last one in the string of incidents Monday.

It has also called for a peace process, but it remains uncertain whether American officials will resume discussions it has had intermittently with Taliban representatives since 2010.

Arif Noori, a spokesman for the provincial governor, says women and children were among those killed in the explosion.

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