KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani declared a formal end to his government’s ceasefire with the Taliban on Saturday but called on the insurgents to agree to full peace talks following a three-day truce during this month’s Eid holiday.
“It is now the Taliban’s decision, whether they want to keep
killing or join the peace process,” Ghani told a news conference
in Kabul where he repeated an appeal for comprehensive peace
talks. Ghani had ordered government forces to suspend offensive
operations for 10 days after the Eid truce on June 15-17, which
saw unarmed Taliban fighters mingling with soldiers, police and
civilians on the streets of Kabul and elsewhere.
Saturday’s announcement means that Afghan security forces,
which have adopted a largely defensive posture since Eid, can
resume their normal operations against the Taliban as well as
Islamic State fighters with whom there was no ceasefire. The Eid ceasefire conjured hopes of an end to 40 years of
fighting in Afghanistan but there is little realistic
expectation among security officials and foreign diplomats in
Kabul of any immediate breakthrough.
While regional neighbours, international partners and Afghan
civil movements have all called for peace, the Taliban have
already rejected talks and fierce fighting has been underway in
many parts of Afghanistan ever since the end of Eid.
On Saturday, the Taliban, fighting to restore their version
of strict Islamic law in Afghanistan, said they had attacked
Dasht-e Qala, a district in the northern province of Takhar
which they briefly overran last month.